Mortgage lending dived by more than 60% during March as activity in the housing market remained subdued, figures have revealed.
Net lending, which strips out redemptions and repayments, totalled just £374m during the month, well down on February's £950m and January's £1.71bn, according to the Bank of England.
The subdued level, which was the lowest figure since net lending contracted by £366m in December, is likely to reflect the stagnant housing market and the fact that homeowners are taking advantage of low interest rates to pay down mortgage debt. There was a slight pick-up in the number of mortgages approved for house purchase in March, with these rising to 47,557, the highest level since November last year. But the figure is still down on the 48,967 loans which were in the pipeline in March 2010, and well below the 70,000 to 80,000 a month that economists consider to be consistent with a stable market. The data comes as Nationwide said house prices fell by 0.2% during April.