Mortgage approvals for new home purchases picked up slightly in April but remain nearly 40% below the levels of a year ago, according to the latest lending data from the British Bankers’ Association.

The BBA, pointing to strong remortgaging activity that was 20.3% above that in April 2007, said the latest data show a healthy market with 74,722 loans approved. Its members account for about two-thirds of all home loans made in Britain.

David Dooks, BBA statistics director, said: 'There is an active remortgaging market as people switch lenders to obtain better deals. It is clear that contrary to reports, the mainstream mortgage market has not ground to a halt.'

But economists noted that the 38,704 mortgages for house purchases in April were the second lowest on record and did not square with a picture of a recovering housing market.

Financial Times

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