The number of first-time buyers was 23 per cent higher in January than the year before, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
In January 2012, there were 13,200 loans advanced to FTBs, worth £1.6bn, compared to 10,700, worth £1.3bn, the year before.
However, the number of FTBs was down 30 per cent on the 18,800 loans, worth £2.3bn, advanced in December 2011.
House purchase lending rose 22 per cent by volume and 23 per cent by value from a year ago, from 29,300 loans worth £4.3bn to 35,600 loans worth £5.3bn in January. But this was down from 47,600 loans, worth £7bn, in December.
January saw a drop in remortgage activity. Around 26,600 loans, worth £3.6bn, were taken out, down from 28,200, worth £3.5bn, in December.
Remortgage lending experienced its first year-on-year fall since the end of 2010, with the number of loans down 13 per cent and the value down 5 per cent from 30,400 worth £3.7bn in January 2011 to 26,600 loans worth £3.5bn.
Home mover numbers fell from 28,900, worth £4.7bn, in December to 22,400, worth £3.6bn, in January.
CML director general Paul Smee says: “We traditionally see a substantial fall in lending figures at the start of the year, reflecting the lack of enthusiasm by buyers to move house during the post-Christmas months, and this January has been no exception. But the year-on-year rise in house purchase lending suggests that lending levels are generally rising although we expect the trajectory to be bumpy rather than smooth this year.”