By Jonathan Davies

Mortgage approvals rose to their highest level since February 2014 in July, as buyers look to 'lock-in' low interest rates.

Figures from the Bank of England show that mortgage approvals, which do not represent completed purchases (but are a strong indicator), rose 16.4% to 68,764 in July compared with November 2014's 17-month low of just over 59,000.

With the Bank of England expected to raise interest rates for the first time in over six years early in 2016, market experts believe buyers are looking to take advantage of low rates while they still can.

Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, said: “While we currently expect the Bank of England to first hike interest rates in February 2016, there is now a very real prospect that they could act before the end of 2015. However, the Bank of England is stressing that interest rates will only rise gradually and to a limited extent."

The Bank also revealed that net mortgage lending grew by £2.709 billion in July.