Mortgage lending hits a six-year high as €5.6bn drawn down by 30,000 people
The number of home buyers taking out a mortgage has risen to a six-year high.
Close to 30,000 people drew down a mortgage last year, Banking and Payments Federation figures show.
In the last three months of 2016, more than 9,000 mortgages were drawn down. This is the highest number of draw-downs since 2010.
Economists are now expecting a "bumper" level of mortgage activity this year because of the easing of Central Bank lending rules and the help-to-buy scheme.
The total number of mortgages taken last year was 29,498.
This was up 16pc on the previous year, with the value of the mortgages put at €5.66bn. First-time buyers remain the single largest segment of borrowers, accounting for almost half of all draw-downs.
New buyers and mover-purchasers accounted for 84pc of the total value of mortgages drawn down, with the rest made up mainly of investors.
The level of mortgage switching continues to increase, but it is coming off a very low base.
There were 851 remortgage loans during the quarter to the value of €191m.
Goodbody Stockbrokers analyst Susie Crawford said the mortgage market would be stronger this year.
"We see a bumper year ahead with a robust labour market and looser marco-prudential rules contributing to increasing house prices. We forecast an 8pc increase for 2017. Our forecast is for gross mortgage lending of €7bn in 2017."