The mortgage market is showing further signs of tentative recovery after latest figures showed lending increased last month, up 16 per cent from February. Consumers were given £11.5 billion in home loans in March, compared to £9.9 billion in February, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML). Total mortgage lending for the first quarter of 2009 was an estimated £33 billion, which is in line with the CML's expectations for £145 billion in lending this year. As with any slight upturn in the housing sector, some context is needed; the latest monthly figures show a 52 per cent decline from March 2008, when £24.2 billion was lent to consumers. CML's director general, Michael Coogan, said that while the market is beginning to show signs of stabilising, housing transactions and lending are set to remain low for the foreseeable future. He also called on the Government to give the housing market a timely boost in today's Budget, commenting: "We would like to see the Government extend and simplify low cost home-ownership, raise the stamp duty threshold to £250,000 and expand existing support schemes for borrowers in difficulty." Figures published earlier by HM Revenue & Customs showed that the number of property sales over £40,000 had risen to 60,000 in March, up from 43,000 in February - a 40 per cent hike.
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