| 13.2°C Dublin

Number of mortgages falls to lowest level in three years



Banking and Payments Federation chief Brian Hayes

Banking and Payments Federation chief Brian Hayes

Banking and Payments Federation chief Brian Hayes

The number of people who drew down a mortgage last year was at its lowest level for three years.

New figures from the Banking and Payments Federation show that just short of 36,000 mortgages were issued last year.

The total approved for a home loan was also at its lowest level since 2017 as the pandemic hit the housing market hard.

Some 35,617 mortgages, to a value of €8.36bn, were drawn down in 2020.

This was the lowest level of activity since 2017, the banking body said.

In 2019, before the pandemic, almost 42,800 mortgages were drawn down.

This means there was a drop of more than 7,000 in the number of mortgages drawn down by first-time buyers, movers, switchers, investors and those topping up their home loan.

The value of the mortgages that were drawn down fell by €1.1bn in 2020 compared with the previous year.

Last year a total of 43,151 buyers were approved for mortgages, down around 6,000 on the 2019 total.

These approval figures do not all turn into mortgage drawdowns as a chronic shortage of properties to buy means many potential borrowers often get outbid and do not end up buying.

The value of the approvals last year was €10.34bn. The number of approvals in 2020 was the lowest since 2017.

However, the value of approvals was up 2.1pc on the 2018 figure, reflecting the rise in the property values.

The average approved mortgage grew by almost 6pc year on year to €244,700.

This is up almost €10,000 on the value of the average approval in December 2019.

Over the last three months of last year some 12,154 new mortgages were issued to borrowers, with a value of €2.95bn.

This number of mortgages was down slightly on the total for the same three-month period in 2019.

A total of 3,999 mortgages were approved in December.

This was down by 23pc compared with the previous month, but up 35pc when compared with the same month in 2019.


Chief executive of the Banking and Payments Federation Brian Hayes said there was strong growth in approvals and drawdowns in December and in the last three months of last year.

However, he added that the recovery in mortgage activity in recent months has not fully offset the sharp decline seen earlier in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions.

He said the large numbers approved for a mortgage mean there is a good pipeline for drawdowns in the first and second quarter of this year.

"It remains to be seen, however, what the impact the current lockdown we are experiencing will have on prospective homebuyers and the mortgage market as we move beyond that," Mr Hayes pointed out.

Separate figures from the State's Property Price Register show that there were 48,300 residential property transactions last year.

This is compared with 58,791 in 2019.

Last year's transactions had a value of €15.6bn, down from €18.6bn in 2019.

Economist at Davy Stockbrokers Conall Mac Coille said demand from homebuyers has been robust.

It has been held back only by limited stock, he explained, with new homes listed for sale now down to a fresh low of 12,200.