Today saw some important figures released by the Bank of England with regards to Mortgage Lending to individuals.

The key statement is that “The number of loans approved for house purchase (37,937) was higher than in January and the previous six-month average”.

This is a bigger rise than anticipated, in fact almost 20% more than the January stats. Following on from the British Bankers’ Association figures published last week, this latest rise in mortgage approvals is an encouraging sign for the housing market.

Because mortgage approvals happen ahead of property transactions, these figures lend credence to the claim that the bottom of the property market is fast approaching.

With many people now looking to take advantage of low house prices and mortgage rates, the only thing that is holding them back is the banks themselves. If the Government is genuinely serious about helping first-time buyers and borrowers generally, then it needs to act now and competitive, sensible lending up to 90% loan-to-value is the place to start. The draconian lending criteria being adhered to by the banks have to be relaxed.

It was sad to see another good building society go to the wall and no-one likes to see names like Dunfermline struggle. It was however encouraging to see that Nationwide have picked up the pieces as they are the natural institution to do so, following their acquisition of Derbyshire and Cheshire.

As with the two names previously mentioned, Nationwide are keeping the brand names which will please many. I only hope that the majority of the staff are kept in place.

Whilst the political debate about whether they were abandoned by the Government or not will rage on for a while, let’s hope this is the last bank / building society to hit the news for the wrong reasons.

Meanwhile, I have ordered my battle armour for Wednesday now I am in the heart of the city!

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