Data from UK Finance shows that the value of gross residential mortgage lending grew 4.7 per cent on a yearly basis in December, from £20.1bn to £21.1bn.
In total, £267.5bn was lent in the calendar year, up 3.8 per cent on 2017.
On a monthly basis, in which £23.8bn of lending took place in November 2018, this equates to a drop of 11.6 per cent.
December 2018’s activity consisted of 26,145 home purchase loans, down 36 per cent from November, when 40,800 purchases were completed, but looked at yearly, up 5.3 per cent on last December’s total of 24,840.
The number of remortgage approvals dropped both monthly and yearly. There were 20,653 in December 2018, whereas in November 2018 there were 30,736 and in December 2017, 21,920 – falls of 33 per cent and 5.8 per cent, respectively.
UK Finance managing director Eric Leenders says: “Mortgage lending grew in December compared to the previous year, with borrowers defying seasonal trends and purchasing a property throughout the festive period.”
North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf comments: “These figures show that sales are still happening, where buyers and sellers are taking a longer-term view, prompted perhaps by the need to live near schools, work, or downsize. Negotiations can be tough but more successful when the parties concentrate on the difference between the buying and selling price – not the headline figure.
“Transactions and mortgage approvals/advances have proved to be a better indicator of future property market health for us than more volatile prices which vary considerably area by area and are often influenced by local as well as national factors.”
One77 Mortgages managing director Alastair McKee adds: “This positive increase in market activity is certainly something we’ve noticed at ground level with a strong uplift in buyer enquiries and commitment to products across the board, which has been lacking in previous months.
“However, while this initial spark may be enough to start the engines, it can’t fuel the UK property powerhouse in the long-term unless it converts to completed sales. With many sellers refraining from the reality of current market conditions in terms of asking price, it could be a few months yet until any notable indicators of market stability filter through.”