The number of mortgages handed out to first-time buyers in January jumped by 38% on a year earlier, banks and building societies have reported.
The pick-up came amid signs that people taking their first step on the property ladder are starting to put down smaller deposits due to the Government's flagship Help to Buy scheme, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said.
A total of 21,800 loans worth £3.1 billion were advanced to first-time buyers in January, marking a 38% increase on the same month in 2013, according to the CML's figures.
But the latest number of first-time buyer loans also represents an 18% slide on the previous month's total, which had been a six-year high. Some 26,700 loans were handed out to first-time buyers in December, marking the highest monthly figure seen since late 2007.
The figures were released as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) reported that the surge in demand from potential buyers piling into the market as a result of schemes like Help to Buy is starting to show signs of slowing down.
Rics also suggested the recent flooding has had an impact on both the number of potential home buyers coming into the market and the volume of properties being put up for sale.
Paul Smee, director-general of the CML, said: "January is always a subdued month in the mortgage market but the underlying trend and strong year-on-year growth across all borrower groups indicates a strong start to 2014 continuing the sort of lending levels seen throughout 2013."
The CML also said the Help to Buy scheme now appears to be having an impact on the average deposit a first-time buyer has to put down.
First-time buyers had a deposit of 18% on average in January, edging down from a typical figure of
20% in December.
The state-backed Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme kicked off in October last year, with lenders representing more than two-thirds of the market having gradually come on board in the months after launch.
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said the fact the average deposit for a first-time buyer is 18%, despite many lenders offering deals which require a much lower figure, suggests buyers are trying to access cheaper mortgage rates by building a bigger deposit.
He suggested they are doing this by saving hard and getting help from the "bank of mum and dad", and added: "It doesn't suggest that borrowers are over-extending themselves and taking on more borrowing than they can afford."
The number of mortgages handed out in January to existing homeowners who were moving was also up by one quarter (25%) the same month on a year earlier, the CML reported.
Some 26,800 loans worth £4.9 billion were handed out to home movers in January, which like the first-time buyer figures saw a seasonal drop compared with the previous month.