More incentive for home improvements

Homeowners considering whether to improve their property or sell up and move on may have their minds made up by the latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

It has been well documented how inhospitable the housing market has been recently and the new statistics show that mortgage lending has halved in the past year.

Just 23,400 mortgages were approved in January 2009, while 48,600 were given the thumbs up in the same month in 2008.

CML director general Michael Coogan said homeowners will be questioning why lenders are not releasing funds.

"They are," he explained. "But government schemes to restore the flow of funds are primarily focused on a few large banks and recent lending commitments by a few lenders cannot fill the gap overnight although we hope to see more funds flowing into mortgage activity later in the year."

With such a tough market to deal with, some may decide that improving their current property is a more cost-effective option.

Scottish newspaper the Daily Record recently claimed that conservatories can be a great way of adding extra space.