By Daniel Hunter

The percentage of borrowers choosing fixed rates on purchase applications climbed 3.8% to 83.1% in August — the highest level since June 2009 — according to the latest National Mortgage Index from the UK’s leading independent mortgage broker, Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB).

Using data from more than 500 brokers and 800 estate agents, the National Mortgage Index also reports the percentage of remortgage applications for fixed rates rose to 84.2%, some 15.8% higher than at the start of the year.

The increases follow a rise in the number of products and a fall in average fixed rates, as pricing competition among lenders intensified in August. The average two- and five-year fixed rates were down compared to July, with the average five-year fixed rates falling 0.14% to 4.73%.

Alongside the traditional summer lull in August, the impact of the Olympics and Paralympics had been expected to have a negative effect on application levels, but this was partially offset by the official launch of the Funding for Lending scheme on 1 August.

As such applications for purchase and remortgage borrowing fell just 4.16% from the level in July, and purchase activity remained 14% higher than it was at the start of the year.

“We saw a growing number of lenders releasing more competitive products as a result of the Funding for Lending Scheme," Brian Murphy, head of lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau, said.

"In particular, we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of fixed rates, demonstrating that borrowers are seeing real value in both the price and security they offer.

“In August, we saw an increase in competition among lenders both in terms of pricing and also in numbers, with the number of products available on the rise. As such we expect this will start having more of an impact on activity this month and that September will be a strong month in terms of new applications.”

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