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First Direct withdraws mortgage deals

First Direct has become the first of the UK's major lenders to withdraw its complete range of mortgage products. In a statement released today, the company announced it was suspending all new lending on a temporary basis. The decision has been taken following a five-fold increase in demand for its products, it is claimed, with analysts attributing the rise in applications to the competitiveness of its two-year fixed-rate tracker deals at 4.95 per cent. The influx of applications is also thought to have been driven by rival lenders withdrawing similar products. Chris Pilling, chief executive of First Direct, said: "The flood of interest in our mortgages has meant we're taking longer than we'd like to handle applications, especially from non-customers. "Rather than increase interest rates dramatically to discourage new applications, we've decided to withdraw temporarily from offering mortgages to non-customers until we've cleared the backlog."Banks' decisions to limit their mortgage lending comes amid increasingly tight operating conditions in the credit markets.

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