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Mortgage approvals hit 6-year-high

The UK's housing market is continuing to record positive activity as it is revealed that banks approved more mortgages last month than at any other point since September 2007.   Figures collected by the British Bankers' Association (BBA) highlight that almost 50,000 mortgages for home purchase were approved in January 2014. In total, 49,972 home loans were granted - up from 47,086 in December 2013.   The statistics are the most positive recorded in almost seven years, which was the period immediately after the financial crisis set in. The figures also showed a 57 per cent increase in mortgage approvals compared with a year ago, although the numbers are lower than they were towards the end of 2006 - before the crisis.   Commenting on the figures, BBA director of statistics David Dooks said: "Following on from last month, mortgage borrowing continues to rise compared to a year earlier as mortgage assistance schemes help first time buyers and housing chains more generally."   The economic pickup has extended to the house-building industry, with firm Persimmon reporting a robust performance in 2013. The firm recorded profits of £337.1 million for the year, compared with £218.2 million in 2012, in part as a result of the government's Help to Buy scheme and because of mortgages becoming more accessible. Sales for 2014 are already ahead and the firm is anticipating further growth during the remainder of the year, it said.   Meanwhile, the number of new homes built across the UK last year reached record levels for the first time since 2007, according to a report by the National House Building Council. Registrations for new homes rose by 28 per cent last year, while London recorded 60 per cent growth to achieve its highest activity level in 25 years.   As a result of the positive data, concerns are mounting that the country's housing market could be on the verge of overheating. The Bank of England has refuted the suggestion but said interest rates will not remain low indefinitely. 

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