Mortgage lending up 10 per cent

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MORTGAGE lending was 10 per cent higher than a year ago during January as first-time buyers rushed to complete deals before the end of a stamp duty amnesty.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said its year-on-year figures improved for the sixth month in a row after its members lent £10.5bn in January.

Although 14 per cent weaker than December because of seasonal factors, the CML said the performance was in line with improved sentiment in the housing market.

It believes the March 24 deadline for the end of the stamp duty-free period for first-time buyers on properties under £250,000 has boosted activity.

Nicholas Leeming, business development director at Zoopla.co.uk, predicted a lull in activity in the middle of the year as a result of the rush by first-time buyers to meet the stamp duty deadline in March.