There was a slight fall in annual gross mortgage lending at the end of 2014, but last year still saw the highest lending figures since the financial crisis kicked in.
A total of £16.5bn was advanced to mortgage customers in December – the same amount as during the previous month but down 1% on December 2013.
But the £51.6bn advanced during the last three months of the year was up 1% on 2013. It all means that last year saw total mortgage lending of £205bn – up a healthy 17% on the £176bn lent during the previous 12 months.
“Housing market activity has been cooling and house price growth slowing in recent months, but 2014 was still the strongest year for mortgage lending since 2008,” said Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) chief economist Bob Pannell.
“First-time buyers were a key driver, helped by government initiatives such as Help to Buy. As a result, the number of first-time buyers topped the 300,000 mark. While a far cry from the half million that we might regard as ‘normal’, this was the highest number of first-time buyers since 2007.”
The CML is an umbrella group of lenders that are collectively responsible for about 95% of UK residential mortgage lending.