Thursday 20 June 2019

Mortgage approvals fall 8pc in March

The value of approvals grew by 8pc year-on-year. Tim Ireland/PA Wire
The value of approvals grew by 8pc year-on-year. Tim Ireland/PA Wire
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

The number of mortgages approved fell by 8pc year-on-year in March, according to data from the Banking and Payments Federation.

Mortgages approved in March 2018 were valued at €763m – of which first time buyers accounted for €390m (51.1pc) and €234m (30.7pc) by mover purchasers.

Overall, the value of mortgage approvals fell by 2.9pc year-on-year, but rose by 10.4pc when comparing month-on-month.

The decline in approvals was impacted by bad weather, reduced supply and and new lending rules.

In addition, according to Dermot O’Leary, chief economist with Goodbody, March 2018 figures came off a very tough comparison in the first three months of 2017 when mortgage approvals increased by 77pc year-on-year.

"Annual comparisons will become easier as the year progresses," Mr O'Leary said.


Despite the cooling, the trend in drawdowns remained strong in the first quarter of 2018.

The value of loans drawn down in the first three months of 2018 was up 22pc year-on-year, almost matching the fourth quarter 2017 growth rate of 23pc year-on-year.

This is made up of a 14pc year-on-year increase in mortgage volumes and an 8pc increase in the average loan. Remortgaging, up 59pc year-on-year, was the fastest growing component by far, reflecting increased competition and rising levels of equity in the system.

Overall remortgaging accounted for 13pc of new lending, the highest level since 2009. While first-time buyer drawdowns increased by 29pc year-on-year.

Restrictions for first time buyers

While a quarter of first time buyers received exemptions from the Loan-to-Income ratio threshold of 3.5 times income in 2017, under new lending rules, this is now restricted to one in five first time buyers.

"Lack of available housing stock remains the major issue holding back faster growth in mover-purchaser mortgages," Mr O'Leary said.

"This is reflected the widening gap between mortgage approvals and drawdowns over the past twelve months."

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