Mortgage lending is begining to weaken despite reaching a record level for the month in February, figures showed yesterday.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders said February's total of £24.6 billion was seven per cent down on January.
But it was nine per cent ahead of the £22.5 billion seen in figures for the same period for last year.
Separate statistics from the British Banker's Association confirmed that the monthly total was down on January.
It said that net mortgage lending rose by an underlying £5.2 billion in February, adrift of an increase of £5.4 billion in the previous month and an average of £5.7 billion over the last six months.
The figures, combined with inflation data, were interpreted as making another quarter point rise in the Bank of England base rate more likely in the coming months.
Gavin Redknap, an economist at Standard Char-tered, said: "With data from the British Bankers' Association suggesting still-strong housing demand in February, the inflation data adds to the case for rates to head higher again."
Commenting on its data, CML director-general Michael Coogan said: "This is the highest February lending figure on record, and reflects the continuing strength of the market and the strong desire of many people to get a foot on the property ladder or move house.
"Recent speculation about whether or not interest rates will go up seems to have had little impact upon lending levels and we still expect gross lending to reach around £360 billion this year."
Building societies in the UK also showed record February levels of mortgage lending.
The Building Societies Association said its members saw gross advances reach £4.2 billion in February, compared with £3.2 billion a year ago.
Despite the high total recorded for the month, the BBA said data indicated that the market was easing. British banks also indicated that the recent consumer trend away from borrowing on credit cards continued into February.
Consumer credit dropped by £187 million during the month, with lending on plastic falling by £4 million.
Personal loans and over-drafts fell by £183 million in February, compared with a rise of £189 million in the previous month.