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Lending to first-time buyers went up 11% in 2012

However, loans to first-time buyers fell by 13 per cent in the second half of the year.

According to e.surv chartered surveyors, there were 63,896 house purchase loans granted to buyers with small deposits last year, up 11 per cent from 57,691 in 2011, the best year for high loan-to-value lending since 2007.

2012 was the strongest year for house purchase lending since the financial crisis, with the number of loans going above the 600,000 mark for the first time since 2007. Purchase approvals rose 3 per cent from 590,425 to 607,058.

Richard Sexton, business development director of e.surv said: “The first half of 2011 was pitifully weak for mortgage lending, even by post-2008 standards. The Eurozone crisis was in full swing back then and lenders’ funding lines were painfully constrained. The crisis began to stabilise in 2012, which boosted confidence and increased banks’ appetite for riskier lending to high LTV borrowers. And funding became cheaper for lenders in late 2011 and early 2012, which encouraged banks to offer more competitive rates. The end of the stamp duty holiday in late March also swelled lending levels in 2012. It created a stampede of first time buyers in the first quarter of the year rushing to avoid a hefty tax bill on their first property.”

According to e.surv, banks sustained lending levels in the second half of the year by focusing lending on wealthier borrowers at the expense of first-time buyers.