Santander increased gross lending 27 per cent last year, from £14.4bn in 2012 to £18.4bn in 2013, despite reducing the size of its mortage portfolio by £8.5bn.
Santander’s full-year results, published last week, confirm the lender reduced its mortgage book by 5 per cent in 2013, from £156.6bn to £148.1bn.
Figures released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders in August last year showed Santander had fallen from being the second largest mortgage lender in the UK to fifth between 2011 and the end of 2012, with its market share dropping from 16.8 per cent to 10.2 per cent.
Santander says the reduction in its mortgage book was the result of cutting exposure to what it described as ‘’selected higher risk mortgage segments’’.
The balance of interest-only mortgages dropped 12 per cent during the year, from £61.2bn in 2012 to £54.8bn in 2013.
First-time buyers accounted for £3.4bn of all mortgages lent by the bank last year.
Overall profit before tax from continuing operations was £921m, up five per cent from £877m in 2012.
Santander UK chief executive Ana Botin says: “This year we will continue with our significant investment in strategic initiatives to expand further our commercial businesses, to improve our retail banking offering and enhance the experience of our customers interacting with us across all channels.”
Your Mortgage Decisions director Dominik Lipnicki says: ”The picture is a lot rosier in the mortgage market this year and I would expect to see more results showing growth in mortgage lending. There are a lot more products available and lending is cheaper than it has been for a long time.”