Some 49,239 loans for a residential mortgage were approved last month – the third month in a row that the number has risen and 3% up on the same month in 2010.
The value of lending also increased from £6.7 billion in June to £6.9 billion in July.
In addition, there was an increase in the number of home loans approved for those looking to remortgage, with numbers up from 30,790 to 30,810 (worth £3.9 billion).
The figures were backed by the Building Societies Association (BSA) which said that there had been a 6% rise in gross mortgage lending by building societies and mutuals in July, up to £2.1 billion from £2.0 billion in July 2010.
"In the first seven months of the year mutuals have approved an additional 16% worth of mortgages compared to the same period last year," said Adrian Coles, director general of the BSA.
"This is an encouraging trend in the face of continued uncertainty in the outlook for the housing market given the challenges faced in the wider economy."
Data from the body also showed that there has been a 17% increase in gross mortgage lending over the first seven months of 2011, standing at £12.3 billion.
Away from the property market, the BSA reported that savings levels in July increased by £0.6 billion, compared with a fall of £1.0 billion during the same month in 2010.
"It is encouraging to see a net receipt of savings by mutuals in July, especially when the ability of many households to save is being eroded by persistently high inflation and low wage growth," added Mr Coles.
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