Mortgage lending up 53 per cent

Ian Mullen, chief executive of the BBA, said: "Annual mortgage lending has been higher than the previous year in each of the last three and 2002 looks to be heading the same way. Despite a slower housing market at this time of year, there was firm demand for re-mortgaging and equity release products, and credit card repayments were strong. This reflects the fact that we are seeing signs of more financially aware customers, shopping around for financial products and understanding them more clearly.

The figures show that the average house purchase loan was £79,000 (12 per cent higher than a year ago), and nearly 165,000 loans were approved for a total value of £9.9 billion.