The shortage of properties for sale has hit house purchase approvals which fell more than 3% in December.
There were 68,218 house purchase approvals in December, down 3.1% from 70,410 in November.
However, average monthly approvals across the second half of the year stood at 69,572, up from the first-half average of 64,047.
And approvals climbed 12.5% year-on-year from 60,650 in December 2014, according to the latest Mortgage Monitor from e.surv.
Small-deposit lending stagnated towards the end of the year, remaining at 16.3% of total lending and comprising just 11,120 loans as London remains a challenge for first-time buyers.
Richard Sexton, director of e.surv, said house purchase lending has been rejuvenated over the past year.
“With the second half of 2015 looking stronger than the first in lending terms, the trend looks positive.
“Small-deposit lending has been transformed by a renewed enthusiasm to help first-time buyers cross the threshold of homeownership, as evidenced by the number of higher LTV products available.”
But he said supply issues are a growing problem. “Limited choice of affordable homes is certainly proving a challenge to some buyers.
“Alongside this obstacle, higher stamp duty changes are finally making their mark upon the top end of the market.
“Undoubtedly, 2016 looks set to bring challenges and opportunities for lenders, with the Mortgage Credit Directive and a potential interest rate change on their radar.”