The Building Societies Association has found that mutuals completed £1.54bn in mortgages in March, compared to £742m in February.
Although figures are still historically low: building society gross lending amounted to £1.46bn in March 2009 compared to £3.63bn in March 2008.
Net lending by building societies in March 2009 was -£717m, compared to £781m in March 2008.
As for savings, building societies experienced a net withdrawal of £196m from savings accounts in March. However, in spite of this and in spite of interest rates still at an all-time low of 0.5 per cent, balances rose by £2.14bn.
BSA director general Adrian Coles says: “As might be expected at this time of year, mortgage approvals in March rose sharply, but even adjusting for seasonal influences this is the highest figure since November. Although this may suggest a very slight recovery in activity in the housing market over the next few months the environment nevertheless remains very challenging.”
“However, it is pleasing that despite this, an extra 450,000 savings accounts were open at building societies at the end of March compared to the start of the year. Over £1bn was deposited in building society savings accounts during this period and the sector’s share of the retail savings market increased from 20.2 per cent at the end of February 2008 to 21.4 per cent at the end of February 2009.”