The number of mortgage approvals last year was the highest since 2007 despite the housing market being closed temporarily due to the pandemic.
The Bank of England said 818,500 approvals in 2020 surpassed the figure of 789,100 from 2019.
Approvals hit a record low of 9,400 in May but sharply rose in the second half of the year.
In a sign of future mortgage lending, 103,381 approvals were recorded in December last year - only slightly lower than in November 2020.
Nitesh Patel, strategic economist at Yorkshire Building Society, said: 'It was a year of two halves, with an active market prior to lockdown, which came to a hard stop in March. When the market reopened, the rapid uplift took many by surprise. The market has been stimulated partly by buyers re-evaluating their housing needs, particularly for larger homes with access to green space.'