The increase in net lending secured on dwellings was higher than the January increase and the previous six-month average – the three-month annualised growth rate rose by 0.2 percentage points to 1.5%. The number of loans approved for house purchase, 37,937, was higher than in January and the previous six-month average.
Although purchases rose, approvals for remortgaging, 32,633 were lower than in January and the previous six-month averages.
Council of Mortgage Lenders economist Paul Samter says: “This is welcome news, but we will need to see a few more months’ figures before we can say with any confidence that market conditions are showing a fundamental improvement. Transactions remain historically very weak, and this makes it harder than usual to adjust the figures for the normal upturn that happens in the spring.”
Propertyfinder.com director Nicholas Leeming says: “Mortgage approvals are still far below their peak, but the 20 per cent improvement in February is further proof the housing market activity is picking up off the bottom, even if prices are weak.
“House prices may yet drift lower: buyer offered 9 per cent below the asking price in March, saving them around £15,000 on already lower asking prices.”