(Bloomberg) -- Virgin Money UK Plc expects lower mortgage volumes in the near-term following a jump in mortgage rates and the tightest cost-of-living crisis in a generation. 

“In the near term, the group expects more muted mortgage volumes, in line with the subdued market backdrop,” the lender said in a first-quarter trading update Wednesday. The bank’s mortgage balances rose 0.4% in the quarter ended Dec. 31.

House prices in the UK fell for a fifth month in January, the longest string of declines since the financial crisis, according to the Nationwide Building Society.

The UK bank also said it took £66 million ($81 million) impairment charge in the period and saw a “strong level of customer interest” in its buy-now, pay-later product Slyce. Virgin Money plans to build new accounts “responsibly” over the coming months. 

Read more: Buy-Now, Pay-Later Demand Climbs Among Squeezed UK Pensioners

The bank confirmed its full-year net interest margin guidance of between 1.85% and 1.9% as the Bank of England’s rate hikes continued to offset competitive price pressures in the mortgage market. Virgin Money also reiterated its annual cost-to-income ratio target of about 50%, while flagging higher call center demand as one driver of expenses. 

The company’s shares were up as much as 1.2% in early London trading. 

What Bloomberg Economics Says ...

“The longest successive period of house-price declines since the financial crisis highlights how soaring mortgage rates and the biggest squeeze on real incomes in a generation is hitting the housing market hard. We see home values falling a bit less than 10% this year as a resilient labor market prevents a sharper decline.”

— Niraj Shah, Bloomberg Economics

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