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Mortgages continue record run

Britain's mortgage lending notched up another monthly record in March, new figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) reveal.After monthly records in January and February, March continued 2007's record-breaking performance with £31.3 billion lent in mortgages last month.That represents a 22 per cent increase from February's figure of £24.6 billion, which was lower because of seasonal shifts in the market.March's lending was up ten per cent on the equivalent figure 12 months ago, suggesting that recent interest rate rises may not be deterring many buyers from entering the market.CML director general Michael Coogan offered an alternative explanation: "It is clear that many borrowers are taking sensible steps to shelter against higher mortgage costs," he said."We continue to expect mortgage lending to reach a record £360 billion this year."Despite his prediction Howard Archer of research firm Global Insight said that data published by the Building Societies Association today, showing that seasonally-adjusted mortgage approvals reached a five-month low, suggested that the housing market was beginning to slow."There are clear signs in the March mortgage data… that housing market activity may finally be coming off the boil as higher interest rates and elevated house prices increasingly squeeze new buyers out of the market and make it more difficult for existing house owners to trade up," he warned.

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