The number of mortgages approved for house purchases increased in May, compared to the previous month.

Bank of England figures show that there were 43,200 home loan deals permitted during the course of the month - up 57 per cent on the level recorded in November 2008.

In response to the news, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said it represented the first time since early 2007 that year-on-year change was positive - as just over 12 months ago there were 39,000 mortgages were approved.

Loans endorsed for private landlords will be among those which contributed to the higher figure.

However, Rics warned that "the improving picture still needs to be kept in some context"because recent numbers are much lower than those which would "typically be expected even in the midst of a recession".

The Bank's figures have been released just days after Nationwide Building Society said the average price of a home in the UK in May was £154,016.

Written by Claire Doyle

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