Housing holds on but rate rises are knocking on the door

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The Independent Online

The housing market looks set to continue its solid growth after mortgage lending hit a new record for July.

Some £34.4bn was advanced last month, according to figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, compared with £30.6bn in July 2006.

"Lending is robust despite the five rate rises since last August – although we have yet to see the full impact of higher rates," said a spokesman. The figures are "being fuelled by a large number of people remortgaging to better deals in case rates go any higher".

Although July's lending figures were the highest on record for that month, they were 1 per cent down on June's £34.8bn.

Elsewhere, the National Association of Estate Agents said its July data suggested consumers were beginning to feel the pinch from the rate rises. The number of registered buyers, the number of properties on estate agents' books and sales per agent all fell.

For July, a spokesman said, agents reported an average of 314 buyers registered. "This is in sharp contrast to July last year, when there was an average of 387 house hunters reported."

Figures from the Building Societies Association backed up signs of a slowdown. Seasonally adjusted mortgage approvals from its members were £3.6bn in July, down from £4.9bn a year earlier.

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