BBA: Mortgage approvals rise as buyers beat stamp duty hike

THE number of mortages approved in December reached its highest level since September 2007, the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) said yesterday.

Net mortgage lending rose by £3.5bn in December, which was up modestly from £3.4bn in November and above an average level of £2.9bn over the past six months.

The number of home loans agreed rose to 45,897 in December from 44,965 the previous month. This was well above the record low of 17,797 that was seen in November 2008 but remains below the average monthly level of 60,314.

BBA statistics director, David Dooks, said: “The high street banks continued to lend substantial amounts in the weaker mortgage market of 2009, approving more than 440,000 loans for house purchase.” Banks have come under fire for not doing more to improve the availability of credit.

However, analysts said that many transactions may have been rushed through in December to beat the end of the stamp duty holiday. As a result, lending in January and February might stagnate.