THE mortgage market is set for a boost with a leading lender about to make it easier for first-time buyers and movers to get a mortgage.
Experts said the move by KBC Bank to ease back on its lending criteria was a sign that some life is coming back into the housing market.
The lender will no longer require borrowers to have a deposit of at least 20pc of the property's value and a 10pc deposit will be sufficient now, the Irish Independent has learnt.
Belgian-owned KBC Bank said it is seeing an increase in demand for mortgages and it considered the property market to have stabilised after six years of severe price falls. The move comes as AIB, Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank are set to step up mortgage lending this year.
KBC has decided there is a future for retail banking here as it has just opened branches in Dublin and Cork and plans new offices in Galway and Limerick and other larger towns.
It has launched a debit card and plans to introduce a current account. This is at a time when other banks are closing branches, and hiking the cost of current accounts.
Head of retail Dara Deering said trader-uppers and first-time buyers were creating demand for mortgages.
"Confidence is returning to the economy and in urban areas in particular, house buyers are returning to the market because they believe there are increased signs of prices stabilising," she said. "With the opening of our new Dublin and Cork offices, we have seen an increase in demand for mortgages in recent months. This has cemented our view that now is a good time to further promote our mortgage offering."
Mortgage expert Karl Deeter said there was an absence of competition in the lending market at the moment.
AIB and Bank of Ireland were issuing most of the mortgages.
"Now that KBC have returned it's a positive sign for both competition, and for confidence in the credit market, something which has been sorely lacking for a long time," Mr Deeter said.
The move comes after latest figures from the Central Statistics Office showed property prices in April rose in the capital and countrywide for the first time in six months.