The number of new home buyers taking out mortgages fell to another low in January. Only 50,300 buyers were granted a home loan, more than a third fewer than in January last year, figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show. The Times, Independent

This is the lowest figure recorded since the monthly series began in 2002 but the CML estimates it as the lowest level for nine years. First-time buyers who do not have a hefty deposit are finding it increasingly difficult to secure a mortgage deal as lenders tighten criteria in an effort to protect margins in the wake of the credit crunch.

The average proportion of a property's value being borrowed by first-time buyers fell to 88% during January, down from 90% in December, the CML said.