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The number of home-buyer mortgage approvals increased sharply in August, to the highest level since January, according to the Bank of England.

But experts said the jump in loan approvals is likely to reflect people trying to lock into mortgage deals amid expectations of rising interest rates, rather than being evidence of a strengthening in demand.

Some 74,300 approvals were recorded in August, marking an increase from 63,700 in July.

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said: “These figures look very much like the calm before the potential storm, following the recent turmoil on the financial markets.

“Nevertheless, we certainly believe activity will retain its momentum for a few months at least as buyers seek to take advantage of lower mortgage rates before they climb even higher.

“Approvals are generally a better indicator of direction of travel for the market than more volatile house prices so we will be keeping an even closer watch on approvals over the next few months.”

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