The figure is however up 22% by volume and 23% by value from a year ago, according to the latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
January saw a drop in both the number and value of loans taken out for remortgage. Some 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% and the value down 5% from January 2011.
For the last year, first-time buyers have borrowed on average 80% of their property and that was unchanged for January. The typical home mover borrowed 70% for the fourth month running.
The CML says the drop in lending reflects the normal seasonal pattern where cold weather, lack of daylight and post-Christmas cash flow problems in January are likely to deter buyers from moving house.
First-time buyers continue to pay less of their income on mortgage interest, 12.2%, down from 12.3% in December.
Paul Smee, director-general of the CML, 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.
“Average deposits for first-time buyers have stayed steady at around 20% for over a year but that figure may start to drift down gently over the coming months especially as NewBuy has been launched for new homes.”