But latest data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders shows there were just 8,900 first-time buyer loans in January 2009, less than half the 18,000 mortgages completed for first-timers in January 2008.
Overall, there were only 23,400 mortgages for house purchases completed in January, again less than half the 48,600 completed in January 2008. In December 2008 there were 32,400 completions.
But remortgaging activity grew, with 44,000 remortgage loans worth £6bn in January 2009 – up from 41,000 loans worth £5.6bn in December 2008.
Michael Coogan, director-general of the CML, says: “January and February are usually the quietest months in the mortgage market but the withdrawal of many lenders has created a significant gap in the capacity to fund mortgages to match demand.
“Mortgage affordability is good for borrowers with deposits, but consumer confidence and lender appetite remain muted.”