By Daniel Hunter

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) today (Thursday) estimates that gross lending in November was around £12.9 billion, and publishes its market forecasts for 2013-14, alongside a self-evaluation of the mortgage market based on interviews with the UK's mortgage lenders.

Overall, there are grounds for optimism that the market recovery which began this year should continue next year, reinforced in part by Funding for Lending scheme effects.

This time last year, the CML had forecast that 2012 would see 825,000 property transactions, £133 billion of gross lending, and £8 billion of net lending. In fact, activity was stronger than we expected, and we now expect to end 2012 at 930,000 transactions, £144 billion of gross lending and £9 billion of net lending.

While these activity levels remain far below the abnormal boom experienced before the financial crisis, they do provide a springboard for cautious optimism for 2013.

The CML's central forecast is for 950,000 property transactions, £156 billion of gross lending, and £12 billion of net lending in 2013, falling back a little in 2014 after the FLS drawdown window ends to 930,000, £150 billion and £11 billion respectively.

"Whereas the FLS was conceived by the UK authorities to mitigate the worst impacts of a potential fresh credit crunch, its launch has in fact coincided with a more positive external funding environment, in part due to European Central Bank actions," CML chief economist Bob Pannell commented.

"Given this more benign context, in our view the FLS now has the potential to underpin a modest pick-up in mortgage lending activity... A key test, however, will be the extent to which greater borrower appetite materialises in response to better credit availability."

The CML is also pleased to observe that mortgage arrears have been lower than originally forecast for 2012, and the number of repossessions is likely to end the end year at 35,000, some 10,000 lower than forecast. The CML's central forecast is for 35,000 repossessions in 2013 and 37,000 in 2014.

Alongside the market forecasts, the CML is today also publishing its report based on the industry self-evaluation in which CML members participated this year. Based on interviews and surveys with lenders, the report gives an insight into what the UK's mortgage lenders think about their market, where it has come from and where it is going. The CML hopes it will contribute to a wider debate about housing policy, and the role of lenders in delivering sustainable housing finance across all housing tenures for the long term.

"Our forecasts point towards a market that will both grow and improve in 2013," Paul Smee, CML director general, commented.

"Sustainable growth will characterise the market of the future. We look forward to helping both lenders and policymakers stay focused on delivering a market that provides protection and flexibility to meet the needs of real consumers, and the report that we publish today shows ways in which this can be encouraged to happen."

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