The amount of money being lent to UK homebuyers fell last month, according to figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).
New mortgage lending amounted to £10.4bn in January, the lowest figure since April 2012.
It represents a fall of 9% compared with December, and a 3% fall compared with January 2012.
But the CML said that sentiment was still positive and it expected matters to improve over the coming months.
The news will be seen as a setback, following recent figures from the Bank of England and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggesting that the housing market was beginning to pick up.
The CML said it was worried that rising inflation would make it harder for people to afford to take out a new mortgage.
“But we still expect the Funding for Lending scheme to lift activity over coming months,” said Caroline Purdey of the CML.
Funding for Lending (FLS) was launched last August and aims to provide up to £60bn to banks and building societies, on condition they lend it out to their customers.
While the January figures are down, there is plenty of activity in the market”
Last month, the Bank of England reported that the FLS was beginning to increase the flow of loans to customers.
As a result, some experts had expected the latest lending figures to be better.
“At face value, these figures are surprising, especially given the lower rates on offer and the boost from the Funding for Lending Scheme,” said Ashley Brown of the mortgage broker Moneysprite.
But he, too, is optimistic about the months ahead.
“While the January figures are down, there is plenty of activity in the market, and this should feed through to more positive figures in the coming months,” he said.
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