Despite challenging market conditions building societies upped their mortgage lending by 7% to £68.9bn in 2018.
A total of 476,803 new mortgages were approved, up 8% on 2017, amounting to 31% of all mortgages approved last year.
Robin Fieth (pictured), chief executive at the BSA, said: “Building societies performed strongly in the final quarter of 2018, adding to a robust performance for the year as a whole which was delivered despite challenging market conditions.
“The housing market was and remains subdued, with little growth except in remortgages.
“Here homeowners have been locking into deals while interest rates stay low, to provide some financial stability in uncertain times.
“Mortgage product innovation remains a strength for the sector, together with the more personalised approach to mortgage underwriting.
“The strong finish in Q4 bodes well for lending early in 2019, subject to the outcome of Brexit and consumer sentiment in the run-up to 29 March.”
By the end of 2018 23% of outstanding mortgage balances were held by building societies, amounting to £322.3bn, up from £298.7bn the year before.
Net lending totalled £17.9bn, an increase of 12%.
Around one in three building society mortgages were to first-time buyers.