Lending activity is likely to remain relatively depressed in 2010 until funding and supply conditions improve, according to the Building Societies Association (BSA).
Its latest figures show gross mortgage lending by building societies was £1.6bn in November, compared to £1.7bn in October.
Mortgages approved by building societies in November amounted to £1.2bn, compared to £2.1bn in November 2008.
Adrian Coles, director-general of the BSA, says although the housing market stabilised slightly in recent months, lending is still at lower levels than a year ago.
He adds: "Funding conditions for all lenders are improving slowly, but these are still acting as a brake on lending, as is the relatively small number of properties coming to market."
In the savings market, balances held in savings accounts at building societies reduced by £0.6bn in November. Coles says there is little incentive for people to increase savings while the Bank Rate remained at low levels.
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