THERE was a jump in the number of new mortgages approved last month for house and apartment buying.
A total of 1,677 people got letters from their banks in October telling them they have been offered a mortgage, according to the Irish Banking Federation.
This is 10pc higher than the number of home loans approved in September, the banking lobby said after launching a new survey of mortgage approvals.
Of these approvals, 1,565 were for house purchases and 112 were re-mortgages.
This is the highest level of approvals since January 2011, which was the start date for the approvals series.
The new data series tracks mortgage approvals from nine major lenders – Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Banks, EBS, KBC, Permanent TSB, Ulster Bank, Danske Bank, Haven Mortgages and ICS Building Society.
These lenders account for most of the market.
Mortgage brokers have consistently said that the majority of people who apply for a mortgage are turned down.
But the latest information comes after recent figures showed a rise in actual mortgage drawdowns for July, August and September.
Analysts said the new information on mortgage approvals was encouraging, but lending remains subdued.
Asked if there were any figures on the numbers who applied for a mortgage but were turned down, Felix O'Regan of the banking federation said: "Our experience is that it is very difficult to get consistency across a range of lenders on the numbers turned down for a mortgage, so results are not reliable and thus don't add value to the overall picture."
Analyst with Davy stockbrokers David McNamara said the upturn in mortgage approvals was encouraging, but off a very low base.
"Although the recent rise in approvals is an encouraging sign, lending remains at very low levels," he said.
He said the number of mortgages that were actually drawn down in the July to September period was close to 4,000.
Mr McNamara said this could lead to the number of mortgages being issued this year going above last year's total of 14,273 – worth €2.4bn.
Meanwhile, first-time buyers who want to avail of the mortgage tax relief offer have been told they have just three weeks to qualify.
The Association of Expert Mortgage Advisers said lenders are likely to close off issuing mortgage cheques around December 21.