Mortgage lending grew 14% in December with the "surprisingly strong" data driven by a surge in house purchase completions, according to CML figures.
Gross mortgage lending reached an estimated £13.7bn last month which is a rise of 14% from November's figure of £12.1bn and up 3% on December 2008.
Lending totalled £39.1bn in the fourth quarter, up marginally from £39bn in Q3, but down 14% on the last three months of 2008.
The figures represent the first time the annual monthly comparison has been in positive territory since October 2007. However, apart from 2008, it is still the lowest figure for December since 2001.
With a typical 6% fall between the third and fourth quarter, the month's figures defy seasonal trends.
"The December figure is surprisingly strong as there is typically a small decline in the month," CML economist Paul Samter says. "Evidence suggests the rise was driven by a surge in house purchase completions - as remortgaging still remains exceptionally weak.
"The most likely explanation is that buyers of cheaper property wanted to complete their transactions before the end of the year to beat the end of the stamp duty holiday."
The healthy data comes, however, as Skipton Building Society announced it will raise its standard variable rate from 3.5% to 4.95% on 1 March.
According to Brian Murphy, head of lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau, this could be just the beginning.
"What concerns me is that many borrowers are banking on rates staying put for at least another year," he says.
"But developments such as this week's higher than expected inflation figures and lower than expected unemployment figures could easily see rates rise sooner rather than later."
Feasibility study due
'Let’s be bold enough to demand change'
Joint life second death option added to relieve tax burden on couples gifting assets
Backed by Schroders, LGIM and the IA
New system for funds without without three-year track record