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Mortgage lending hit lowest level on record in May amid Covid-19 lockdown


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MORTGAGE lending crashed to its lowest level on record in May, as property transactions seized up due to the lockdown.

Just €377m was borrowed to buy homes, a fall of 48pc on the same month last year.

The Central Bank said it was the largest year-on-year decline since the data series began, back in 2013.

It comes after what was until now a record fall in April that saw a 40pc drop in new mortgage lending in that month to €407m.

And the Central Bank report shows that interest rates on residential mortgages have begun to creep up again, after months of decreases.

The average rate on a new home loan was 2.87pc in May, up 9 basis points on the previous month. The average for the euro area stood at just 1.32pc.

Ireland now has the fourth most expensive mortgages in the Eurozone after Latvia, Greece and Estonia, the latest Retail Interest Rates report from the Central Bank shows.

Brokers Ireland said mortgage holders in this country are paying an excess of 1.55pc more on average than their euro area counterparts.

This differential costs Irish consumers more than €84,000 on a €300,000 mortgage over 30 years.

Director of financial services at Brokers Ireland Rachel McGovern said that more existing mortgage holders are switching to get better rates, but not enough are doing so.

“There are tremendous savings to be got by doing so, and lenders are now encouraging switching, seeing it as an area in which to compete for people with good repayment capacity.”

She encouraged those who have not reviewed their mortgages for some time to do so.

“There are large savings to be made and the switching process has become easier, unlike in the past.”

New variable rate mortgage rates stood at 3.37pc in May.

The average rate on new fixed rate mortgage agreements stood at 2.74pc, an increase of 4 basis points on April.

Fixed rate mortgages accounted for almost three-quarters of all new agreements in the three months to May.

New consumer lending contracted by over 50pc in in May, compared with the same month in 2019.

It was the second consecutive month of a fall on this scale.

Just €82m was taken out in personal and other small loans in May 2020.

This represents a decline of €114m, or 58pc, on the same month in the previous year.

The average interest rate was 7.27pc. The equivalent euro area rate stood at 5.12pc in May.

Online Editors