Home buyers are facing “mixed fortunes” according to a body which said mortgage lending fell to a nine-month low in February.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said an estimated £18.2 billion-worth of home loans were handed out in February - 8% lower than January’s lending total of £19.8bn.
The figure is also slightly up on the £18.1bn lent in February last year.
February’s estimated lending total is the lowest seen since May 2016 - just after a stamp duty increase for buy-to-let investors came into force.
The CML’s senior economist Mohammad Jamei said first-time buyers and existing home owners looking to re-mortgage are driving the mortgage market.
By contrast, the number of existing home owners moving house and the demand for buy-to-let mortgages remains “weak”, he said.
The news comes as it emerged that Belfast was fifth from bottom of a table of UK cities in terms of year-on-year growth.
Manchester was top with 8.8% growth while Belfast was in 16th place at 3.8%.
“First-time buyers and customers who are re-mortgaging are driving total lending, while home movers and buy-to-let remain weak,” said Mr Jamei.
“The weakness in home movers means few properties are coming onto the market for sale, which is aggravating a supply demand imbalance that has characterised the market since late 2013.”