Mortgage lending increased in March

Those who have recently built a conservatory in the hope of attracting homebuyers may find an increase in interest after figures were released showing mortgage lending rose in March.

Statistics from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) show gross lending was an estimated £11.5 billion during the month, representing a 16 per cent rise on Februarys total.

The increase in finance may serve to boost the market but it is still 52 per cent down on the £24.2 billion lent in March 2008.

Furthermore, first quarter figures are estimated at £33 billion – a 29 per cent decrease on the amount lent in the final quarter of last year.

CML director general Michael Coogan explained todays Budget provides an opportunity for the government to shore up the industry.

"While the market is beginning to show some signs of stabilising, housing transactions and lending are set to remain low for the foreseeable future," he said.

Mr Coogan called for an extension and simplification of low-cost home-ownership and said the government should raise the stamp duty threshold to £250,000.

His comments counter those of Firstrung chief executive Paul Holmes, who yesterday suggested the housing market should now be left alone to reach its natural bottom.