The Council of Mortgage Lenders estimates that gross mortgage lending reached £21.4 billion in March. This is 19% higher than February’s lending total of £17.9 billion, and 19% lower than the £26.3 billion lent in March last year. The sharp fall in year-on-year lending was expected, as March last year saw significant rises in activity as borrowers rushed to beat the second property stamp duty deadline that came into effect from the beginning of April.

Gross mortgage lending for the first quarter of 2017 was therefore an estimated £59.1 billion. This is a 4% decrease on the fourth quarter of last year and a 6% decrease on the £63.0 billion lent in the first quarter of 2016.

Commenting on market conditions in this month’s market commentary, CML senior economist Mohammad Jamei said: “Mortgage lending appears to be in neutral gear. Our gross estimate for March is £21.4 billion and this is broadly in line with average monthly lending over the past year. Within this aggregate level, there has been a shift towards first-time buyer and remortgage customers, away from home movers and buy-to-let landlords.

We expect this profile to continue over the short-term, as low mortgage rates encourage existing borrowers to remortgage and government schemes help first-time buyers. We do not expect any marked effect from the General Election.”