Gross mortgage lending up in December

This is the first time the annual monthly comparison has been in positive territory since October 2007. However, other than in 2008, this is still the lowest figure for December since 2001 (£13.4 billion).

Lending totalled £39.1 billion in the fourth quarter, up slightly from £39 billion in the previous quarter but down by 14% on the last three months of 2008. There is typically a 6% fall between the third and fourth quarter.

For 2009 as a whole, lending totalled £143.7 billion, slightly above the CML’s annual forecast of £141 billion. However, this is down 43% from £253 billion in 2008 and the lowest annual total since 2000 (£119.8 billion).

CML economist Paul Samter observed: "The December figure is surprisingly strong as there is typically a small decline in the month. Evidence suggests that the rise was driven by a surge in house purchase completions - as remortgaging still remains exceptionally weak. The most likely explanation is that buyers of cheaper property wanted to complete their transactions before the end of the year to beat the end of the stamp duty holiday.

"If there has been a "bunching" of sales to beat the rise, mortgage lending may see a larger than usual seasonal drop-off in the early part of 2010. But there is every reason to expect a gradual improvement in the latter part of the year. With a gradual pick up in economic growth and wider access to credit, 2010 will almost certainly be a better year in the mortgage market than 2009."