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Mortgage approvals rise 37.8 percent from a year ago

Source: Reuters - Tue 23rd Feb 2010

The number of home purchase loans approved by British banks in January were up nearly 40 percent from a year ago, but fell on the month after a tax exemption on properties worth up to 175,000 pounds expired on Dec 31.

Net mortgage lending growth slowed, data showed on Tuesday. The British Bankers' Association said 35,083 mortgage applications were approved last month. That was down from the 45,650 loans approved in December but up 37.8 percent from a year ago. Still, it was the lowest since May 2009.

Net mortgage lending rose by 2.7 billion pounds in January, compared with 3.5 billion pounds in December, which was the slowest pace of growth since last July. The figures come after a Bank of England survey last week showed mortgage approvals by Britain's biggest lenders had fallen last month.

The BBA said the monthly decline was partly due to a reversal of a rush of activity at the end of last year as homebuyers sought to benefit from an exemption from tax on properties worth up to 175,000 pounds, which expired on December 31.

"It was no surprise to see the January mortgage figures falling back from December, when transactions were being pushed through to beat the end of stamp duty relief" said BBA Director of Statistics David Dooks.

"There was a natural reaction in the January figures and the bad weather further suppressed market activity."

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