The total sum owed in mortgages topped #1,000 billion for the first time in May, a month when lending quickened as British home-buyers took on another #9.3 billion of debt secured on their homes.
The Bank of England said this was up from increases averaging #8.7 billion over the previous six months.
The trend looks set to continue. Another 290,000 mort-gages worth #29.2 billion were approved, but not actually paid out during the month. Of these, 117,000 totalling #15.5 billion were for house purchase - as opposed to re-mortgages or equity release loans. That was up from recent monthly averages of 115,000 approvals valued at #15.5 million.
Despite this vigorous and confident activity in the housing market, house price inflation remains subdued, accord-ing to Nationwide. The building society reported yesterday that average house prices have risen by 0.3 per cent during June, making the year-on-year increase five per cent and the average price #165,730.
This compares with 0.2 per cent in May and 0.1 per cent in April. But Nationwide's economist Fionnuala Earley pointed out that it was the third month running of "flat" growth.
"The three-monthly growth rate clearly shows the slowing trend in house price inflation since March," she said. "Prices increased by one per cent in the three months to June, compared with 1.6 per cent to May and 2.1 per cent in the three months to March.
This month's five per cent annual increase is up from 4.7 per cent in the year to May - but only because a slight fall in June last year has dropped out of the 12-month reckoning.
Ms Earley took a measured view of housing market activity. Data from estate agents and house-builder showed signs of more buoyant demand in May, though the distraction of the World Cup could lower activity in June.
She also pointed to the the likely impact of worsening affordability after a long period when house prices have risen faster than earnings.
"Mortgage payments for someone on average earning buying a typical house now take around 42 per cent of take home pay, compared with around 32 per cent three years ago.
"While earnings growth remains lower than house price growth the ability to pay constraint will continue to bite," she said. "So, too, will lending constraints in terms of income multiples and loan-to-value limits, especially for first-time buyers."
Over the long-term, though, the market is under-pinned by demand not fully met by new building.
"It is clear that there is a s ignificant amount of pent-up demand which will help to support house prices into the future, " Ms Earley said.
"At current rates of house building there could be over 100,000 frustrated potential households in 2006, even on central assumptions about migration. At the higher migration assumptions this increases to 200,000."
Philip Shaw, an economist at Investec, said both the mortgage and housing markets were likely to be stronger than recent figures suggested.
Nationwide may be under-stating house price growth slightly, he added, as its figures appear to be out of kilter with other data, such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which showed demand from potential buyers rising for a record 12th month in a row during May.