Sunday 18 February 2018

First-time buyers are driving surge in mortgage approvals

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. Picture: Tom Burke
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. Picture: Tom Burke
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

The number of people approved for a mortgage surged by a third last month, driven largely by first-time buyers.

And potential buyers are getting approved for higher amounts of borrowings, according to the figures from the Banking and Payments Federation.

The figures imply property prices will keep rising, economists said.

A total of 4,124 want-to-be buyers got approval during May, the banks said.

In the same month last year there were 3,046 approvals, which means the total was up 34.5pc in a year.

The approvals in May were valued at €884m in total.

The average purchase approval in May was €228,505, up 7.7pc year-on-year.

First-time buyer approval totals increased by 46pc in the year to 2,148.

They made up 67pc of the annual increase in approvals in the year so far.

Read More: Property prices now rising at a rate of €2,000 every month

The average first-time buyer approval was up 10pc to €208,389.

The rise in the numbers getting the go-ahead for home loans comes as Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has committed to reviewing the Help-to-Buy scheme, which has been blamed for inflating house prices.

Not all approvals will translate into mortgage draw-downs, as many potential buyers will be outbid.

Mortgage switching saw a rise, but off a very low base. The numbers switching were up 35pc in the year to 314, while the number of top-up approvals rose by 28pc to 253.

Re-mortgage approval values were up 26pc to €66m.

David McNamara, analyst with Davy Stockbrokers, said the data signals further strong growth in house prices in the coming months.

Mr McNamara forecasts that mortgage lending will hit €7.5bn this year, up from €5.7bn last year. But over the next three years mortgage lending is likely to more than double to close to €13bn, he said.

Irish Independent

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