The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has revealed a 10 per cent increase in gross mortgage lending for January this year, compared with the same period in 2011.

Although the total amount of gross mortgage lending dropped slightly last month to around £10.5 billion – a 14 per cent fall from the £12.2 billion lent in December 2011 – it was still 10 per cent more than the £9.5 billion in gross mortgage lending recorded for January last year, the CML said.

Chief economist Bob Pannell said that mortgage lenders expect a seasonal decline in lending around the December-January period, but stressed that January 2012 represented the sixth consecutive month of greater mortgage lending year-on-year.

“Housing and mortgage market sentiment has improved a little over recent weeks,” Mr Pannell added.

“The increase in lending compared to January last year helps support our view that housing and mortgage market activity may be boosted by first-time buyers seeking to complete deals before the stamp duty concession ends in March.”

He predicted that “should inflationary pressures continue to fall back, the squeeze on household finances should ease progressively and help support stronger economic recovery going into the second half of the year. This can only be good news for the housing market further down the track.”

One UK region where mortgage activity has been strong throughout 2011 was Gloucestershire, according to Barclays bank’s retail area director Dave Smith.

“Back in the summer months we saw the CML increase its gross mortgage lending forecast for 2011 from £135 billion to £140 billion. It also predicted gross mortgage lending of £150 billion in 2012,” he said.

“We expect to deliver similar levels of activity and mortgage completions for 2012.”

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