Mortgage lending in March was boosted by first time buyers looking to beat the end of the stamp duty holiday.
First time buyers had until 24 March to rubber stamp their house deal if they wanted to side-step the 1% tax on properties worth between £125,000 and £250,000.
And figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) show that many did just that, with mortgage lending in March totalling £13.4 billion – a 30% rise from £10.3 billion in February and a 17% rise from March 2011 (£11.4 billion).
This is the highest monthly total since September 2011 (£13.6 billion) and the highest monthly total for March since 2008 (£23.9 billion).
Gross lending for the first quarter of this year was therefore an estimated £34.4 billion, down from £37.8 billion in the previous quarter but a 13% increase from the first three months of 2011 (£30.3 billion).
"The increase in our March lending estimate appears to be almost entirely due to stronger house purchase activity," said Bob Pannell, chief economist of the CML.
"The most likely explanation is that buyers wanted to complete their transactions before the end of the stamp duty concession on 24 March.
"The underlying picture for house purchase activity has been relatively buoyant in recent months.
"However, we would be surprised if we did not see a drop in transactions over the next few months, following the end of the stamp duty concession, especially as it will take some while for NewBuy transaction levels to build."
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