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Mortgage lending up on August... but it's still not great

Gross mortgage lending totalled an estimated £12.5 billion in September, a two per cent rise from the £12.3 billion in August but down 27 per cent from September 2008, according to new data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

Gross lending in the third quarter of 2009 was an estimated £38.9bn, an 18 per cent increase from the second quarter and down 36 per cent from the third quarter of last year.

Behind the modest improvement from August to September and the relative stability of recent months is the balance between the types of lending taking place – there has been a pick-up in house purchase activity, but this is off-set by the decline in re-mortgaging.

In the CML’s market commentary, CML economist Paul Samter observed: “House buying activity is running at considerably higher levels than around the turn of the year. However, it remains weak on any historic comparison and is unlikely to rise much further given the constraints the lending community faces and a still difficult economic backdrop.

“But there are some positive signs to look to. While the retail side, both in terms of mortgage and savings activity, has thrown up few surprises, it is encouraging that the wholesale markets have begun to thaw.”

Mr Samter added: “Some of the UK’s highly- rated institutions have been able to issue structured finance products backed by mortgages in recent weeks. This is only an early sign of wholesale investors tentatively coming back into the new issuance market, but is welcome nonetheless.”

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