Building societies were responsible for one in three new mortgages in the first quarter of 2017, data from the Building Societies Association has found.
The building society sector approved 112,287 new mortgage loans, up 2% on the 109,762 in the first quarter of 2016.
However gross lending was down year-on-year, falling by 15% from £15.1bn this year to £17.7bn in Q1 2016.
Robin Fieth, chief executive of the BSA, said: “Activity in the mortgage market was relatively subdued in the first quarter of the year.
“Homebuyers have been struggling with low levels of properties coming on the market, meaning the availability of suitable housing is limited and so fewer transactions have taken place.
“House prices as a multiple of earnings are also hovering around their historic peak, making affordability more difficult for first-time buyers or those moving up the property ladder.
“These conditions are unlikely to change in the near term and so activity will remain subdued for the remainder of the year.”
He added: “Collectively they approved one in three new mortgages between January and March, and delivered half the growth in the whole market.
“Buying a home is not always a straightforward process and each borrower has different needs and faces different circumstances.
“Building societies are able to take a more personalised approach to lending, responding to factors including changing age demographics and working patterns.”