Commenting on the Bank of England mortgage approvals data, Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist said: "If a reminder of the challenges currently facing the housing market was needed, [the] Bank of England figures do just that.
“The number of residential mortgages dropped in December to the lowest level since March 2009. It is easy to blame poor weather, which clearly had some impact on the market. But on the other hand, the generally disappointing activity data through the latter part of 2010 is broadly consistent with the RICS Housing Market Survey's negative picture on the number of buyer enquiries.
“Looking forward, some rebound in the January numbers is likely if only because of the better weather conditions. However, with lending still constrained, and mortgage rates edging up under pressure from developments in financial markets, it is hard to see mortgage approvals picking up markedly.
“Indeed, for the whole of 2011 we see activity in the housing market at a broadly similar level to that recorded last year.”