Many of us may be taking advantage of low interest rates with our credit card spending, but when it comes to mortgages, it’s a different story altogether. Because although mortgage borrowing reached £12.2 billion in October 2016; that’s actually down by 4% compared to October last year. And when you look at mortgage approvals for the first ten months of 2016, well, that’s also down – by 4% compared to the same period last year; so what does it all mean?

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Lower mortgage approvals could reflect the uncertainty surrounding the housing market and the economy in general after ‘that vote’ in the summer. What is on the increase though, are remortgages – figures for October 2016 show that the numbers are fairly similar to those in October last year but between January and October remortgages were up by 13%. So, it looks as though savvy homeowners are taking action to save money on their monthly payments by remortgaging.

So, although lenders are approving fewer mortgages, homeowners are taking advantage of record low interest rates to lower their borrowing costs through remortgaging. The current Bank of England base rate is just 0.25% and some banks and building societies are offering introductory rates of less than 1% for anyone wanting to go down the remortgaging route.

But if you’re not on the property ladder and remortgaging isn’t an option then what are your chances of climbing those slippery rungs? Lower mortgage approval rates demonstrate just how hard it is to get that first footing; but some good news might be in store in the long run.

The chancellor’s Autumn Statement promised a £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund which will be used to support the building of up to 100,000 new homes in the areas that need them most. Plus, 40,000 new affordable homes will also be built and £1.7 billion has been allocated to speed up the building of new homes on public sector land. That’s a lot of houses and a lot of promises but it should be a moral boost to anyone saving hard for that first time buyer mortgage or looking to climb further up the ladder.

If you are after a mortgage but don’t know where to start, then take a look at our mortgages hub. We’ll explain all sorts of stuff like how to save for one; how to maximise your mortgage approval chances and what a 95% mortgage is all about. At comparethemarket.com, we’re all about making life simples so, let’s start, shall we?