And at £53bn, that's more than in any other year since CML data began in 1974.

What’s the latest?

Mortgage lending to first-time buyers soared to a record high of £53.2bn in 2016.

That's the highest level since Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) records began in 1974.

While the value of home loans to first-time buyers last year increased 13% on 2015, the number climbed by a more modest 8%.

There was also a 20% jump in remortgaging activity among homeowners during the year.

But the number of mortgages advanced to homeowners trading up or down the property ladder slumped by 2%.

Why is this happening?

The jump in lending to first-time buyers is likely to have been fuelled by record low mortgage rates.

The CML said the percentage of income that first-time buyers needed to pay off their mortgage dropped to a new record low of 17.4% in December.

Government schemes to help people buy a property are also likely to have played a part.

Meanwhile, August’s interest rate cut, as well as the uncertainty caused by the UK’s vote to leave the EU are likely to have been factors in the high level of remortgaging activity during the year.

But the drop in existing homeowners who moved in 2016 probably reflects the shortage of houses on the market, as well as the high costs associated with buying and selling a property.

Flat for sale in Colingdale.

Above: two-bedroom flat for sale in Colindale, north west London.

Who does it affect?

It is clearly great news for first-time buyers. But the picture is more mixed for people in the buy-to-let sector.

There was a 7% jump in lending to investors in 2016, with those remortgaging accounting for nearly two-thirds of the total.

However, the number of loans advanced to buy-to-let investors snapping up a property was more muted, and actually fell by 38% year-on-year in December, most likely as a result of April’s stamp duty hike and other unfavourable tax changes.

Sounds interesting. What’s the background?

Paul Smee, director general of the CML, said: “2016 could have been a potentially destabilising year of regulatory and political change, but the mortgage market has been resilient and adaptable.”

He added that the CML did not expect lending volumes to show the same increases in 2017, but were likely to remain similar to last year’s levels.

Meanwhile, figures from the Land Registry showed house prices increased by 7.5% in 2016, which it attributed to the shortage of homes for sale.

But the headline figure masked a slowdown in the second half of the year, with annual growth dropping from 8.7% between April and June, to 6.4% in the final three months of 2016. Property commentators expect this slow down to continue during 2017.

There was also considerable variation in house price performance between different local authorities, with Slough posting the strongest growth in 2016 of 19.6%, while in Aberdeen house prices dropped by 8.8%.

Top 5 UK local authorities, by annual house price growth in 2016

Local authority

Change

Average price

Slough  19.6%  £292,102 
Luton  19.2%  £218,764 
Newham  18.1%  £351,339 
Barking & Dagenham  17.9%  £275,134 
Thurrock  17.8%  £246,686 

Bottom 5 UK local authorities, by annual house price growth in 2016

Local authority

Change

Average price

Aberdeen  -8.8%  £175,006 
Aberdeenshire  -2.9%  £194,371 
Argyll & Bute  -2.2%  £131,384 
Kensington & Chelsea  -1.5%  £1.3m 
North Ayrshire  -1.4%  £98,238 

Top 3 takeaways

  • Mortgage lending to first-time buyers soared to a record high of £53.2bn in 2016.

  • The value of home loans to first-time buyers last year increased 13% on 2015, while the number climbed by a more modest 8%.

  • There was also a 20% jump in remortgaging activity among homeowners.

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