Mortgage approvals fell harder than expected for the second consecutive month in March suggesting the introduction of stricter lending rules could be hampering the market.

Data from the Bank of England shows mortgage approvals for house purchases numbered 67,135 last month, the lowest since September 2013 and down from 69,592 in February.

Mortgage approvals hit 76,251 in January, a level not seen since before the financial crisis. Today’s figures mean a 12 per cent lending slump in just two months.

But despite the slip in March, numbers are still far higher than seen in recent years. The lending statistics show in July 2012, nearly 20,000 fewer mortgages were taken out compared to last month.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast 71,050 mortgage approvals were going to be made in March.

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