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Friday, July 16, 1999 Published at 01:36 GMT 02:36 UK

Business: The Economy

Britain's £100bn mortgage market

As house prices rise, mortgages get bigger

The value of mortgage lending in the United Kingdom could top £100bn this year, according to a survey by Barclays Bank.

During June, for example, the volume of mortgages was up 27% on a year earlier, ballooning to £10.1bn.

And during the first six months of the year, lending fell just short of £50bn.

If this trend continues, 1999 could easily be a record year.

The market is not booming

However, these figures do not necessarily indicate that the housing market is booming.

The size of mortgages is growing, because property prices are rising, not because more houses are changing hands.

The bank's survey suggests that nearly half of all homeowners believe that their property will rise in value. Last September only around 40% were that optimistic.

Barclays mortgages director, Jim Chadwick, draws this conclusion: "Although 1999 looks like being a record year for mortgages, this does not necessarily mean we are seeing a housing market boom."

And he adds that housing turnover is "still subdued relative to historic levels. So it remains to be seen whether the current recovery will gather momentum."

One possible reason for rising prices is a shortage of supply. Fewer people are prepared to put their property on the market - only 1-in-15, down from 1-in-13 polled in an earlier Barclays survey.

Barclays' mortgage data are based on the flow of funds through solicitors' deposit accounts, of which its market share is around 30%.

Most of those funds are for mortgage advances and are drawn from the full range of mortgage lenders, not just Barclays bank.

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