Mortgage sales have fallen to their lowest level in six years, according to the latest figures from the Financial Services Authority.
The City regulator, in its annual Product Sales Data report, said that mortgage sales between April 2010 and March 2011 were down by 7 per cent on the previous year.
The number of home-loan providers also declined, with just five lenders accounting for 62 per cent of all sales by volume. The top 10 lenders between them had 83 per cent of the market. The bulk of the market is controlled by large banks, with building societies and credit unions accounting for less that 9 per cent of mortgages sold in the 12 months.
The watchdog noted that the number of sales to first-time buyers fell during the year, while the average age of such borrowers has shown "a mild but steady increase since 2005".
The proportion of interest-only mortgages also continued to decline, from 13.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2010, to 10.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2011.