UK property market still subdued, BBA figures show

image captionThere is no upturn in sight for the UK property market

The stagnation in the UK property market is continuing, figures from the British Bankers' Association suggest.

The BBA said mortgages approved by its members in January for home buyers were 29% lower than a year ago.

They approved just 28,932 loans for house purchase, although this was slightly higher than in December.

Meanwhile property sales in the UK fell in January to their lowest level for a year, figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) show.

Just 54,000 homes were sold across the UK last month, the smallest number since January 2010.

Sales always fall sharply from December to January, traditionally the quietest time of the year for the property market.

However, the figures chime with the continued low level of mortgage lending.

"We are seeing little change in the borrowing environment for households or businesses at the start of 2011," said the BBA's statistics director, David Dooks.

"In both unsecured borrowing and company finance, the emphasis is on repayment rather than new borrowing."

Market 'paralysis'

Mortgage approvals - new mortgages approved but not yet lent - are traditionally an accurate indicator of coming activity.

They currently suggest that the low level of actual lending and completed sales may continue for several months.

The Bank of England reported a sudden dip in December in the number of approvals.

And last week the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) reported that total lending to home buyers in January dropped by 13% from December, to its lowest level for a year.

The CML warned that lending would continue to stagnate because of the subdued state of the economy and the lack of funds available to them to lend.

On Monday, internet estate agency business Rightmove predicted that much of the UK property market faced "paralysis" this year.

This was partly due to the continued reluctance of would-be sellers to drop their prices to realistic levels.

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