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Mortgage lending up by a third

'The mortgage market is steaming ahead like a freight train'

Gross mortgage lending was £15.5 billion in January, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, down 8 per cent compared to December 2013 but a third higher than January 2013.

The New Year has got off to a strong start and consumers are now in a much better position to access mortgage finance compared to the beginning of last year," said Andy Frankish, New Homes Director at Mortgage Advice Bureau. This does not mask the challenges facing the market in 2014, particularly the continuing shortage of new homes."

Duncan Kreeger, director of West One Loans, said: "The mortgage market is steaming ahead like a freight train but it can only go so far before the track runs out. Of course more mortgages are excellent news, but there simply aren’t enough houses on the market to satisfy demand. In the end this just leads to rising house prices, nervous sellers and queues of frustrated buyers. To really supply more homes at cheaper prices, the housing market needs more imaginative finance."

Hugo Thistlethwayte, managing director of buying agency Prime Purchase, said: "The supply of homes coming onto the market is not keeping up with buyer demand, further pushing up prices. Whether this will mean the mortgage market can continue to grow month on month at the levels forecast by the Bank of England remains to be seen.

"However, while prices are rising prime central London is not witnessing rampant house-price inflation. There is more equilibrium, with much of the growth already factored in and no particular pressure on prices. It is a sensible marketplace although stock levels are tight.

"We are still seeing plenty of overseas buyers interested in prime London homes. One issue with such purchasers is that they don’t release any stock into the market,  rather they are taking something out so putting further pressure on supply."