News: Mortgage milestone soon to be forgotten

Total mortgage borrowing in the UK will pass the £1 trillion (£1,000 billion) mark early next month, according to an article published this week by the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

Despite growing rapidly in recent years, borrowing has been dwarfed by the amount of unmortgaged property wealth held by UK home-owners, which currently stands at £3.6 trillion. Housing equity is the largest component of total wealth held by people living in the UK.

Mortgage lending has helped fund a dramatic expansion of home-ownership, from 60% to 70% of the population during the last 20 years. But with 80% of people wanting to be home-owners, there is still a gap between those who own and those who would like to. The government has recognised this, stating that it is keen to help another million people become owner-occupiers by 2010 and to expand home-ownership to 75% of the population in the longer term.

Despite the recent expansion of lending, there are few signs that it has reached a 'natural' limit, with continuing growth expected for the foreseeable future. But lenders continue to support measures to make home-ownership more sustainable.

The CML has worked for a number of years to improve the safety net for borrowers. It is also a strong supporter of campaigns like the Financial Services Authority's financial capability initiative, which seeks to improve consumer understanding and decision-making.

Commenting on the growth of the mortgage market, the CML's director general Michael Coogan said: "The £1 trillion threshold is clearly a landmark but it does not have any particular significance for policy-makers or others."

"Although it is a milestone, it will perhaps soon be forgotten as home-ownership and mortgage lending continue to grow further. Over time, owner-occupation has the potential to create wealth and independence for people, and we will continue to work for the expansion of sustainable home-ownership."

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