By Daniel Hunter

Gross mortgage lending declined to an estimated £10.5 billion in January. Lending fell by 14% from £12.2 billion in December but was 10% higher than the total of £9.5 billion in January 2011, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

Although a seasonal decline is expected, January was the sixth month in a row of higher year-on-year lending.

“Housing and mortgage market sentiment has improved a little over recent weeks," CML chief economist Bob Pannell commented.

“The increase in lending compared to January last year helps support our view that housing and mortgage market activity may be boosted by first-time buyers seeking to complete deals before the stamp duty concession ends in March.

“Should inflationary pressures continue to fall back, the squeeze on household finances should ease progressively and help support stronger economic recovery going into the second half of the year. This can only be good news for the housing market further down the track.”

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