Mortgage lending soared to its highest level on record during November, but increases in consumer credit crashed to a five-year low, official figures have shown.
A total of £27 billion was advanced through new home loans during the month as the housing market continued to show signs of strengthening.
The figure remained strong once redemptions and repayments were stripped out, with outstanding mortgage debt rising by £8.69 billion - the biggest increase since July 2004, according to the Bank of England.
But at the same time consumers' appetite for debt showed signs of diminishing, with the rate at which people borrowed money through credit cards, loans and over-drafts falling to its lowest level since December 2000.
Total borrowing in November of £17.55 billion through unsecured lending was the lowest since July last year.
But, once strong repayments were taken into account, the amount of outstanding debt increased by only £927 million, well down on the recent average of £1.3 billion.
Within this total, the rise in credit card lending was particularly weak, falling by nearly £300 million compared with October's figure to just £307 million, although borrowing through overdrafts and loans remained in line with the previous month.
John Butler, an economist at HSBC, said: "Household appetite for credit remains high but individuals are switching away from unsecured towards secured borrowing.
"The slowdown in net consumer credit, at a time when disposable income growth is being squeezed, should keep a lid on any meaningful consumer recovery through the first half of 2006."
Figures from the Bank of England on mortgage approvals during November suggested the market will remain strong going forward.
A total of 301,000 loans were approved in the month, worth a record £28.16 billion.
Within this, new loans for people buying a property were particularly strong, with 115,000 mortgages worth £14.6 billion approved, well up on the recent monthly average of 103,000 loans worth £12.5 billion.
But loans for remortgaging were slightly weaker than in the previous month with 107,000 loans worth £11.5 billion approved, compared with 110,000 worth £11.7 billion in October.
Analysts declared yesterday's figures a "mixed bag" that did little to help determine what the Bank of England's next move on base rate is likely to be.
Most, however, are expecting a quarter-point reduction in the current rate of 4.5 per cent in order to trim borrowing costs and shore up the the growth in household spending.
"The consumer credit numbers were weaker than expected but we know that retail activity in the first part of December was pretty strong," said Mark Miller, an economist with banking group HBOS.
"The housing market is showing some modest signs of improvement."
A change in base rate is unlikely this month with members of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee on record as saying they will wait for a full breakdown of the Christmas shopping figures before deciding their next move.