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&#3920% rise in approvals signals a continuing strong housing market&#39

Gross mortgage advances by building societies edged up to £2.14bn last month from £2.11bn in January, according to the latest figures from the Building Societies Association.

Its data for last month also shows that approvals on mortgage loan applications increased to £2.8bn from £2.2bn the previous month. On the downside, net advances fell slightly to £568m from £569m.

In the savings market, societies performed well and achieved net inflows of £465m in February compared with outflows of £348m in January.

The BSA says the highlight of last month&#39s figures was the 20 per cent increase in approvals from the same time last year. It believes this is due partly to the attractiveness of mortgage products on offer from societies and a buoyant market.

Director general Adrian Coles says: “The most encouraging aspect of this set of data is the sharp increase in building society approvals in February, up by 20 per cent on a year earlier. This suggests that building society lending will rise sharply in the spring, reflecting both the strength of the housing market as a whole and the attractiveness of the mortgagee products currently on offer from building societies.

“The flow of funds turned positive again in February, with almost half a billion pounds attracted after taking account of withdrawals. A further significant inflow is expected in March as the mini cash Isa season reaches a climax.”

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