UK house purchases in August showed signs of recovery similar to those seen in US housing data, although refinancing continued to fall, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), a trade association for the mortgage lending industry. Although the number of house purchases in August dropped 5% from July to 52,700, the activity marked a 29% increase from one year earlier. The total is still lower than the August average in the previous seven years, but the monthly total has nearly doubled since the start of the year, according to CML. Gross mortgage lending, which includes house purchase, refinancing and buy-to-let loans, declined 36% to £12.3bn from August 2008, according to CML. First-time buyers signed 19,200 loans and 33,400 borrowers moved into a new home. House purchase activity totaled £7.2bn ($11.3bn) in August, accounting for its largest portion of the UK housing activity since 2002, according to CML. Refinancing continued to decline amid low interest rates as lending criteria tightened, according to CML. In August, 32,000 mortgage loans refinanced, a 22% drop from July and a 57% decrease from August of last year. “House purchase activity has revived from its moribund state at the beginning of the year. It will be a drawn out recovery process with seasonal ups and downs, but house purchase activity is now on a firmer footing,” said CML analysts. “But remortgaging [refinancing] demand has fallen away in the low interest rate environment and this is dragging down gross lending levels overall.” Write to Jon Prior.