The lender’s gross new mortgage lending in Q1 2012 was £4bn with the proportion of mortgages provided to first-time buyers increasing to almost a quarter during March 2012, prior to the end of the stamp duty holiday.
Mortgage impairments totalled £34m just 0.1% of its book however the bank reported a substantial pre-tax loss of £1.4bn compared to losses of £116m in Q1 2011.
It also set aside an additional £125m to deal with claims for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance.
RBS also said it would repay the last of the emergency loans from the government paid out during the financial crisis.
Stephen Hester, group chief executive, said: “The start of 2012 has shown pleasing progress at RBS within the context of a flat economic environment.
“Next week the bank will repay the last of the UK government-backed funding support received during the crisis.
“Extensive restricting activity continues apace across the group to achieve future improvement. Customer service and support remain at the forefront of our priorities for the tens of millions who rely on us.”