The level of mortgage lending in evidence across the UK continues to rise, but remains lower than the same time a year ago, a new report has claimed.
According to the latest findings published this week by the British Banking Association, the first five months of 2015 saw improvements time and again as approvals grew, but the market still has a way to go to get back to the sort of levels we saw 12 months ago.
The figures show that in May, the number of approvals going through hit some £10.4 billion. This was slightly higher than was in evidence in April, and although it was five per cent lower than the same time last year, there are reasons behind this annual fall.
The Association says that the tougher rules that were introduced last spring started to see more and more lenders become stricter when it came to approving mortgages. This meant that there was a sharp fall in the number of mortgages given the green light in the summer.
With adjustments made taking this into account, it said that the annual fall in approvals is actually far lower, at just three per cent.
Charles Haresnape, chairman of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA), said that a fourth consecutive month of rises in mortgage approvals should be evidence enough that the property market is picking up pace in 2015, without the need to compare figures to 2014.
However, he also warned that regulators will need to keep an eye on the state of the market in order to ensure that they are able to act if and when they need to.
"In the long term, extra layers of regulation threaten to squeeze more consumers out at the margins. When the rules change so often, it is very hard to judge the right time to say enough is enough before we are left with a far more subdued market than anyone intended," he said.
"Balancing consumer choice and financial safety is a constant challenge, and the Bank of England should stand ready to act if the pendulum swings too far in either direction."