Number of mortgages in the UK rise to December 2009 high

The number of mortgages issued by the BBA was 38.2k in August.

The figure was down on expections of 38.6k, following July's 37.2k, but still at a high last seen in December 2009.

UK unsecured lending is rising, the BBA have said, although 'There was a fall in total business borrowing levels in August.'

Net repayments on mortgages have also increased, according to the BBA, with an August figure of £47m, up from £42m in July.

IHS Global Insight's Howard Archer comments:

The stronger BBA mortgage approvals figures continue the stream of recent data and surveys indicating that housing market activity is now really stepping up a gear, supported by markedly strengthening consumer confidence and elevated employment, and fuelled by the Funding for Lending Scheme and the Help to Buy initiative. On top of this, the Bank of England has indicated that interest rates are unlikely to rise before mid-2016, which seems likely to give many people greater confidence in their ability to purchase a house.

Consequently, house prices look set to see solid increases over the final months of 2013 and then strengthen appreciably during 2014. We expect house prices to rise by around 2-3% over the rest of 2013 and to then increase by 7% in 2014. These expected house price rises are expected to continue to be driven by increases in London (primarily) and pockets in the South East. House prices in the rest of the UK are now generally firming but far from storming ahead.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, says:

Despite talk of a housing bubble, the reality is that we are some way off a sustained recovery, with transactions at far lower levels than at the height of the boom years. However, mortgage brokers and estate agents are reporting high levels of enquiries in September so we expect these to be reflected in improved official figures in coming months.