But he argued the figures have been distorted by the end of the stamp duty holiday during that period, when fewer house sales were completed.
Mr Pannell said: “Our forward estimate is that gross lending in April was £12.1bn. This would have been 4 per cent up on March. The comparison with April last year is flattered by the temporary dearth of house buying activity immediately following the closure of the stamp duty concession.
“The true underlying position is that April is likely to have been one of the strongest months for lending activity since late 2008, but not as strong as the year-earlier comparison suggests.
“Gross lending on a seasonally adjusted basis has been running comfortably above £12bn for several months, but this is still barely half the average level of lending seen in 2003/2004.”
Writing for the CML’s market commentary, Mr Pannell suggested the news confirmed positive trends across the housing market, particularly for first-time buyers. Earlier this month, the CML’s regulated mortgage survey results showed a slight increase in the FTBs’ share of total approved loans, rising from 43 per cent in February to 45 per cent in March.
Colin Parkin, director of Lincoln-based Ample Financial Services, said: “We’ve had one of our busiest periods for mortgages in quite a while, so lending is definitely increasing. There was a huge affordability issue before and lenders had started penalising people with regards to their credit score.
“Now, properties are moving more freely, lenders may be starting to relax their terms and it’s certainly true that there’s a downward pressure on valuations.”