Building society mortgage boost
Lending remains "heavily concentrated" in the hands of the six largest lenders - Lloyds Banking Group, Santander, Barclays, Nationwide Building Society, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and HSBC - the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said.
The six largest lenders advanced mortgages worth £113.8 billion in 2011, compared with £110.8 billion the previous year, but despite this increase, their total market share declined modestly to 80.7% last year, from 81.9% in 2010.
The figures for loans advanced last year also reveal a pattern of larger mutual lenders increasing their place in the market, with Nationwide, Yorkshire, Coventry, Skipton and Leeds building societies all increasing their share.
The CML said that ING Direct had been "by some distance" the fastest-growing lender in relative terms over the last two years. Ranked as the 10th largest lender, ING Direct advanced mortgages worth £3 billion last year, compared with £1.1 billion in 2010 and £100 million in 2009.
Lloyds Banking Group retained its position as the biggest mortgage lender, but its estimated market share decreased from 22.2% in 2010 to 19.9% last year.
The second biggest lender, Santander, also saw a slight decrease in its share, which dropped to 16.8% in 2011. RBS's estimated share was also slightly eroded to 10.4% last year. Barclays' share also decreased to 12.1%, despite the bank increasing its mortgage lending in 2011.
Lending is expected to remain tough this year amid continued economic uncertainty and the British Bankers' Association previously reported that mortgage approvals fell to their lowest level in at least 15 years last month.
Several lenders have announced rate cuts in recent days following more favourable swap rates, but much of the competition surrounds borrowers who are seen as less "risky", with hefty deposits of around 40%. Borrowers with smaller deposits are expected to have a particularly tough time finding a deal as lenders tighten their borrowing criteria.
© 2012 Press Association