The latest figures from Council of Mortgage Lenders show that the total number of homeowner loans for buying a house in December 2013 was down 1 per cent compared to November 2012 but up 27 per cent on December 2012.
The number of first-time buyers also continued to grow, increasing year-on-year by 37 per cent compared to December 2012.
"There has been a resurgence in the mortgage market in 2013 with year-on-year growth for all types of borrower," said CML director general Paul Smee. "First-time buyers were an especially important factor in driving the market forward in 2013 as improved economic conditions, as well as the introduction of government schemes like Help to Buy, have given the opportunity for them to enter the market and become home-owners."
The average first-time buyer borrowed 3.43 times their gross income in December 2013, compared to 3.38 in November 2013.
George Spencer, CEO of lettings agency Rentify said: "Buy-to-let lending has ended 2013 on a high, with the last three months up 20 per cent compared to the same period in 2012, although the number of buy-to-let loans decreased by 10 per cent from November to December. We are seeing a buy-to-let market undergoing a seasonal, market adjustment after strong upwards momentum.
"Traditionally, the ambition of people in the UK is to become a homeowner, but we are starting to see a change. As more people move to the UK from Europe, renting becomes more natural. After all the majority rent in many countries on the continent."
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: "Help to Buy continues to play a big part in encouraging first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder. However, beyond the scheme, lenders are offering high loan-to-value deals at even more competitive rates, so there are other options."