Total gross mortgage lending increased by 4% on March to £12.1 billion in April, according to estimates from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).
However, it cautions that meaningful comparisons with last April are difficult.
CML chief economist Bob Pannell explained: “Our forward estimate is that gross lending in April was £12.1 billion. This would have been 4% up on March. The comparison with April last year – 21% higher – is flattered by the temporary dearth of house buying activity immediately following the closure of the stamp duty concession.
“The true underlying position is that April is likely to have been one of the strongest months for lending activity since late 2008, but not as strong as the year-earlier comparison suggests. Gross lending on a seasonally adjusted basis has been running comfortably above £12 billion for several months, but this is still barely half the average level of lending seen in 2003-4.”
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “April was another strong month for the mortgage market with an uptick in the number of new deals being taken out and a welcome rise in the number of first-time buyers. Funding for Lending has had a significant impact on the market: practically every move made by lenders in the past three months has been positive, either in terms of pricing, criteria or both.
“However, growth is still steady rather than spectacular and certainly not at the levels seen at the height of the housing market.
“Remortgaging remains subdued, which is perhaps surprising given the rock-bottom mortgage rates now available. It may be that borrowers are sat on attractive reversion rates or standard variable rates so don’t wish to remortgage, or are trapped because of tighter criteria or lack of equity in their homes so can’t switch. There may also be borrowers holding out for even better rates. However, borrowers should look at rates in an historical context – these are the cheapest rates ever seen and even if they do edge a little lower, snapping one up now might be a good move. Don’t assume they will be around for ever.
“The mortgage market is recovering. The continued availability of extremely competitive rates across the loan-to-value spectrum will help inspire confidence and should continue to boost the housing market.”