THERE was a sharp fall in the number of people approved for a mortgage in May.
New figures from the banks show close to 1,900 potential buyers were approved, a fall of 62pc on the same month last year.
First-time buyers were approved for only 850 mortgages, way down on the same month last year. Some 45pc of those approved for a mortgage were first-time buyers.
The total number of mortgages approved in the same month last year was 4,926, according to the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI).
Mortgage approvals do not always lead to draw-downs as sometimes buyers cannot buy anything in their price range or get approval from a number of lenders. But they are seen as an indicator of the health of the mortgage market.
Mortgages approved in May were valued at €442m, with first-time buyers accounting for €200m of this.
Some €118m, or 27pc, of the value of mortgages approved was accounted for by mover- purchasers.
The value of mortgage approvals fell by 16pc month-on-month and by 61.1pc year-on-year.
BPFI CEO Brian Hayes said it was expected there would be fall in mortgage approvals due to the pandemic.
"This is not unexpected given the scale of the lockdown and physical restrictions, and their impact on employment figures and economic uncertainty," he said.
"Similarly, the 60pc fall in the volume of approvals when compared with May 2019 is not surprising given the scale of the pandemic and its immediate impact on incomes and business activity."
He said that despite the unprecedented shock to both the Irish and global economy, it is significant that almost 1,900 mortgages valued at €442m were approved here during the month of May.
He said this shows the demand in the housing market may be more resilient than expected.
"Our strong message to would-be borrowers, whose income and employment circumstances have not been impacted by the current pandemic, and who meet normal lending criteria, is to actively proceed with their applications," Mr Hayes said.
There were 44,037 mortgages approved in the 12 months to May, with a value of €10bn.