"It is perhaps disappointing that mortgage lending dipped slightly in 2019 but there is not much in it and UK Finance suggests that there is still a stronger long term lending trend."
Despite the decrease, UK Finance says the last two years "have broadly reflected the continuation of a stronger long term lending trend over recent years".
More positively, an annual total of 982,286 mortgages were approved by the main high street banks during 2019, 7.4% more than in 2018.
Purchase approvals rose 8.0% in 2019, remortgage approvals were 7.9% higher, and approvals for other secured borrowing were 3.0% higher than in 2018.
Vikki Jefferies, proposition director at Primis, commented: “After a more subdued end to 2019, today’s figures show that market activity remains stable. For those who can afford a house deposit, ongoing low interest rates will work in their favour. What’s more, going through an intermediary will enable borrowers to take advantage of the range of deals out there– some of which may not be available via an execution-only route.
“Advisers can be kicking off the new year by looking through their client banks and contacting those coming to the end of their terms. As today’s figures indicate, remortgaging continues to be an attractive option for borrowers, and advisers can be capitalising on this to ensure that more of their clients take advantage of the low rates available.”
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and former RICS residential chairman, added: "It is perhaps disappointing that mortgage lending dipped slightly in 2019 but there is not much in it and UK Finance suggests that there is still a stronger long term lending trend.
"What is apparent is that demand cannot remain pent-up indefinitely and on the ground we have not been surprised by the determination of some buyers to take advantage of improving affordability from almost record-low mortgage rates and rising real wages.
"The extent of any post-election ‘bounce’ will probably be determined not only by an ability to match buyer and seller expectations but early clarification of the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU. Any uplift is likely to be noticed most in areas where the ratio of house prices to earnings is low."