Gross mortgage lending totalled £10.5bn in January, 10 per cent higher than the £9.5bn lent in January 2011, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
However, the figure represents a 14 per cent monthly decline compared to the £12.2bn lent in December 2011.
CML chief economist Bob Pannell says that both housing and mortgage market sentiment have improved slightly in recent weeks.
He says: “The increase in lending compared to January last year helps support our view that housing and mortgage market activity may be boosted by first-time buyers seeking to complete deals before the Stamp Duty concession ends in March.
“Should inflationary pressures continue to fall back, the squeeze on household finances should ease progressively and help support stronger economic recovery going into the second half of the year. This can only be good news for the housing market further down the track.”