Gross mortgage lending was down 2 per cent last month against the same period last year according to new figures published by the council of mortgage lenders.
March lending stood at £11.3 billion in 2011, compared to £11.5bn in 2010. But the figure showed a marked increase on the previous month, up 21 per cent from the £9.3bn lent in February this year.
Gross lending for the first quarter is also up one per cent on the year on year comparison at £30.1bn but was down 11 per cent compared to the fourth quarter last year.
CML chief economist Bob Pannell said: “ The housing market has emerged hesitantly from hibernation. Household finances are under a lot of pressure, and as a result demand for house purchase loans fell in the first three months of 2011.
“Lenders expect mortgage credit availability to improve this quarter, and this should help to underpin house purchase activity albeit at pretty low levels.”