GROSS mortgage lending fell by 19 per cent year-on-year in March, reaching £21.4 billion in total.

Although this was 19 per cent higher than February’s total of £17.9 billion, it was 19 per cent lower than the £26.3 billion lent in March 2016.

Overall for the first quarter of this year, gross mortgage lending was an estimated £59.1 billion – a four per cent decrease on the fourth quarter of last year and a six per cent decrease on the £63.0 billion lent in the first quarter.

According to the CML the year-on-year monthly decrease was to be expected as March saw a rush of activity from buy to let landlords hoping to beat the second stamp duty deadline that came into force in April.

CML senior economist Mohammad Jamei said: “Mortgage lending appears to be in neutral gear. Our gross estimate for March is £24 billion and this is broadly in line with average monthly lending over the past year. Within this aggregate level, there has been a shift towards first-time buyer and re-mortgage customers, away from home movers and buy to let landlords.”

He went on to say that he expects the current situation to continue but that in the longer term remortgaging and first time buyer schemes would help to improve the situation.

“We expect this profile to continue over the short term as low mortgage rates encourage existing home owners to remortgage and government schemes help first time buyers. We do not expect any marked effect from the General Election.”