There were 51,098 mortgage approvals for house purchase in May, according to the Bank of England.
These approvals were worth £7.6 billion the lowest figure since March.
There was also a fall in the number of approvals for remortgaging to 29,244.
Meanwhile, gross mortgage lending by building societies and other mutual lenders rose 54% to £2.8 billion in May 2012 compared to £1.8 billion May 2011.
In the first five months of 2012 lending rose 40% compared to the same period in 2011. In comparison, during the same period bank gross lending rose 8% (May 2012 vs May 2011) and year to date was up 4%. Net lending by mutuals was positive for an eighth consecutive month, reaching £835 million in May.
Mortgage approvals by mutuals were up by 67% in May compared to the same month last year, and were 32% higher than the average over the previous six months. Approvals were up 48% in the first five months of the year compared to the same period in 2011.
“Lending activity by mutuals in May was once again strong,” said Adrian Coles, director-general of the Building Societies Association (BSA).
“Other data collected by the BSA shows that nearly a quarter (24%) of new lending this year by mutuals was to first-time buyers. The mutual sector is giving a strong signal that it is open for business to all types of borrower whether buying a property for the first time or remortgaging.
“Approvals by mutuals were up significantly in May both compared to last year and the previous six months which demonstrates the mutual sector’s commitment to lend in the coming months.”
“Lending from Building Societies has really spearheaded the increase in mortgage lending in 2012,” said Brian Murphy, head of lending at broker Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB).
“The mutual sector has continued to bring competitively priced and innovative products to market, and this has been reflected in its strong start to the year.
“MAB’s National Mortgage Index found application levels are 16% higher than they were last year, and gross mortgage lending by mutuals is up 54% on the same period.
“So while average rates have been increasing and with product numbers still well down on pre-crisis levels those lenders who remain open for business with competitive products are likely to benefit the most in 2012.”