The Council of Mortgage Lenders has confirmed that gross lending smashed all records in 2006, as had been predicted by the trade body.
The data also reveals that a record £346bn was lent in 2006 as a whole, a 20 per cent increase from 2005. The record figure was fuelled by annual house price growth of around 7 per cent coupled with a 14 per cent increase in the number of house sales.
The CML had predicted lending would reach £345bn in 2006, so was pretty much spot-on.
It has, however, warned that the interest rate rise to 5.25 per cent earlier this month may see consumer demand for mortgages slip in 2007.
In December, gross lending hit a record of £29.4bn. This was down by 11 per cent on the all-time record of £33.1bn reached in November, but up by 8 per cent on the £27bn of lending in December last year.
CML director general Michael Coogan says: “The commentators who thought the housing market would crash in 2006 were wrong. Last year the market proved itself to be in robust shape and we expect it to remain so during 2007.
“Going forward, many of the key drivers of the market remain positive. The economy is healthy, demand for housing is strong, and house prices continue to rise. As a result, mortgage lending this year is expected to be even higher than in 2006.
“But the recent increases in interest rates might make many aspiring home-owners think twice about getting on to the property ladder, and we expect to see levels of activity dampen as the year progresses.”