There was an unexpected contraction in mortgage approvals across the UK in February, with some experts citing the poor weather as a possible reason. Lending to businesses also fell.

There were 70,309 mortgage approvals in February, down from 76,753 in January, according to the Bank of England. The former low figure has not been matched since October, while January’s approval rate was the highest in over six years.

As rain and flooding adversely affected businesses across the UK, a drop in approvals had been forecast – at 75,250 – nearly 5,000 more than there actually was.

The property industry has largely been credited with the improvement in the British economy over 2013, alongside the consumer sector, which also saw growth.

Lending to business dropped by £750m, while lending to small business increased by £159m.

The Bank of England warned banks to lend sensibly, and to be aware of future interest rate rises.

As many of our home, holiday home and landlord insurance customers will be aware, house prices continue to rise, making their investments look even sounder. There are however notes of caution from some economists and politicians, who warn a housing bubble is still possible.

Mortgage approvals are still some way off the pre-crisis 2008 levels of approximately 90,000 rubber-stamped loans per month, but as property values rise, owners should have more reason to smile.