Mortgage lending last year was down about 30% on the 2007 figures and in the final quarter was running at well below half the peak level, according to the latest figures from Council of Mortgage Lenders.

CML expects the level of lending to drop further in coming months, which may well translate into a further fall in the level of transactions.

The December figure for mortgage lending was particularly bad at £12,600 million placing it as the lowest month for lending in the lowest quarter since late 2001.