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Last Updated: Monday, 2 April 2007, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Mortgage equity withdrawal robust
A street of semi-detached houses
Homeowners are looking to unlock equity from their property
The amount of money people are borrowing against the value of their homes is rising, official figures show.

Homeowners released an estimated 14.6bn in the final quarter of 2006 through mortgage equity withdrawal, the Bank of England said.

Mortgage equity withdrawal totalled 49.7bn for 2006 as a whole, up from 36.6bn the previous year.

Economists suggest that rising mortgage equity withdrawal could bolster consumer spending on the High Street.

"The figures suggest that in the short-term, the recent strength in the housing market will support consumer spending," said Vicky Redwood, UK economist at Capital Economics.

"Despite higher interest rates, households are still keen to unlock money tied up in their house into a more spendable form."

Ms Redwood warned that if house prices were to fall, homeowners could live to regret their decision to borrow against the value of their home.

But she added that price falls, in the short term, were not "expected".

Homeowners also commonly use mortgage equity withdrawal to fund improvements to their property and repay credit card and personal loan debt.

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