The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has indicated a strong start to the New Year, with healthy mortgage lending figures released for January. A total of £17.9 billion in home loans were granted over the course of the month. Better than December? Actually, no. Decembers total was £19.8 billion, so January was still £1.9 billion down on that figure. However, January did see the best figures for that month since 2008. This is also a strong start for the year, and one that could turn out to be indicative of the lending yet to come. A significant rise over last January We only need look back to this point last year to see how far the market has come in 12 months. January 2015 saw a total of £14.8 billion lent to mortgage applicants who were accepted for loans. Thus, this years opening salvo in the housing market is £3.1 billion up on the same period last year. Are we well on the way to matching the figure seen in 2008? The mortgage market has clearly had an active start to 2016. However, the final figure is still significantly lower than that seen back in 2008. Then, £25.2 billion was granted in mortgages. This leaves the January 2016 figure still £7.3 billion down on that achievement. Average house prices are still rising House price increases are part of the reason why the total amount granted in mortgages has risen, although of course they are not the whole story. Furthermore, while the average house price has crept up to just under £300,000 in England and Wales, there are wide variations from one area to another. Experts have stated that growth will still take place this year, but they expect it to be relatively muted. This may fly in the face of the figures we have seen above, but there are good reasons why this is the case. A lack of suitable properties on the market has something to do with it, not to mention the question of if or when interest rates will rise. While it doesnt look likely this will happen in the near future, it could still have an effect on the long-term mortgage market. However, for now, mortgage deals are encouraging, with rates still among the best the market has ever seen. Buyers have clearly started the year in a confident mood, and that looks set to continue for the time being at least. Will mortgage lending continue to rise throughout the coming months? It remains to be seen whether this is the case. However, with consumer confidence at a reasonably high level at present, there is every chance we could see gentle increases in the amount of mortgage lending going on in future months. It would be foolhardy to assume we could attain the levels seen in 2008, but we could certainly look to a better year than we had last year. We shall certainly look ahead to the prospect of healthy lending in the coming months.