Mortgage lenders have reported one of their strongest months since 2008 in a further sign that Government efforts are prompting an upturn in the housing market.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) estimates that £12.1 billion worth of loans were advanced in April, marking an increase of one fifth (21%) year-on-year.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
The total also represents a 4% increase compared with March and follows a string of studies indicating that Government initiatives to reinvigorate mortgage borrowing are having an impact.
CML chief economist Bob Pannell said: "The true underlying position is that April is likely to have been one of the strongest months for lending activity since late 2008."
The findings were released as official figures showed that house prices rose by 0.4% month-on-month in March to reach £235,000 on average, marking the first monthly increase seen this year.
House prices are now 2.7% higher than they were a year ago, following a smaller annual uplift in February, the Office for National Statistics figures showed.
The CML has reported an uplift in first-time buyer activity in recent months, helped by various Government schemes designed to make it easier for people to borrow.
The number of mortgages on the market has increased sharply and lenders have slashed their rates since a Government scheme called Funding for Lending was introduced last August. Other initiatives called NewBuy and Help to Buy are specifically aimed at giving people with smaller deposits a leg up.
The CML's previous figures have shown that first-time buyers accounted for 45% of all house purchase loans in March, up from 43% in February.
However, Mr Pannell pointed out that the sharp year-on-year rise recorded by the CML has been "flattered" by a temporary dip in activity this time last year which happened after a stamp duty concession for first-time buyers came to an end.
10 wealthiest small towns in the UK
Mortgage lending jumps by a fifth
Windsor is top of the tables for the UK's wealthiest towns and villages, according to research published by WealthInsight. The Berkshire town is home to 850 dollar millionaires (people with assets of more than US$1m, or £653,424)
Weybridge is second in England with a population of 19,500 and 800 to 850 millionaires.
Sevenoaks has a population of 18,500 and between 800 to 850 millionaires.
Andrew Amolis, analyst at WealthInsight said Beaconsfield's position, at number four, was "unsurprising." "It has the highest average house price outside of London (over US$750,000 per home). It also has the highest average income per household of US$110,000."
Henley-on-Thames, at number five on the list, is the town where numbers of millionaires is growing fastest, the research suggests. The number of so-called high net worth individuals increased by 25% between 2007 and 2012. "This compares very well with general UK millionaire numbers which declined by 9% over that period," said Andrew Amolis, analyst at WealthInsight.
Marlow just missed out on a top five rank with 14,000 inhabitants and between 350 and 400 millionaires in residence.
Hale is the highest-rated town closest to Manchester with a population of 15,300 and between 300 and 350 millionaires.
"Alderley Edge is considered to be the most affluent town in the North West, particularly Whitebarn Road which is one of the most expensive streets in the UK," said Andrew Amolis, analyst at WealthInsight.
Bray is number nine on the list and is home to Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck restaurant. Bray has a population of 4,600 and counts more than 300 millionaires among its residents.
Ascot finishes tenth in the list with a population of 11,600 and between 250 to 300 millionaires.