Mortgage numbers rise to February 2008 highs

Mortgage numbers have swelled in the UK this August - hitting 66-month highs.

They're up from 60,624 to 62,226 in a single month, above analyst estimates of a rise to 61,500. That's before the accelerated second stage of Help to Buy even kicks in. Yet at 62,226, mortgage approvals stand at 73.5 per cent of their average since 1993.

Howard Archer, of IHS Global Insight, commented that it is "vitally important for economic stability and longer-term growth prospects that a new housing price bubble does not emerge", but that we're not necessarily dealing with a bubble.

Archer points out that house prices are now only higher than their 2007 peak levels in two areas - London (9.1 per cent) and Outer Metropolitan (0.7 per cent). He warned that "there is a mounting danger that house prices could really take off over the coming months, especially if already significantly improving housing market activity and rising buyer interest is lifted appreciably further by the “Help to Buy” mortgage guarantee scheme".

House prices seem to be rising on the back of limited supply (as a result of tight planning rules) and the pumping up of demand by government schemes.

Net lending is also higher, reaching £1.6bn in August (inline with forecasts).