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Mortgage lending strengthens in February

Mortgage lending by banks and building societies showed steady growth in February.

The monthly survey by the Council of Mortgage Lenders shows a rise in gross lending in February to £163.9.5bn from £163.9.4bn in January, significantly above the £163.7.9bn for the same period last year.

The CML says average interest rates hit their lowest levels since December 1999, moving down to 5.86 per cent from 6.16 per cent in January, with average new fixed rates falling to 6.1 per cent from the previous month&#39s figure of 6.35 per cent.

Variable-rate mortgages continue to be a favourite with borrowers, accounting for 71 per cent of all new loans in February, up from 67 per cent in January.

Lending figures from the Building Societies Association show gross advances rising to £163.1.93bn from £163.1.88bn in January.

Loans agreed by building societies shot up to £163.2.3bn in February from £163.1.8bn in January.

CML director general Michael Coogan says: “Remortgaging continues to be a major feature of the mortgage market, remaining at record levels, although we expect it to abate a little over the coming months.”

BSA director general Adrian Coles says: “As expected, people do seem to be returning to the housing market after the Christmas break.

“February&#39s figures for mortgage approvals show a steady rise and are the highest for three months.”

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