The number of mortgages approved last year was the lowest since 2017, despite a pick-up in activity in the final quarter of the year, according to figures from Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI).
During 2020, 43,151 mortgages worth €10.3 billion were approved. The value of these mortgages was down 6.7% compared with 2019.
The BPFI’s figures also showed that 35,617 mortgages worth almost €8.4 billion were drawn down in 2020, also the lowest figure since 2017. This was despite a 50% jump in volume compared with the third quarter of 2020.
First-time buyers dominate
In December, 3,999 mortgages were approved, with first-time buyers (FTBs) accounting for more than half of the total.
The number of mortgages approved in December fell by 23% from November but jumped by almost 35% compared with the same month last year.
Mortgages approved in December were valued at €979 million, of which FTBs accounted for 53%. The value of mortgage approvals fell by almost 24% month-on-month and rose by more than 40% on an annual basis.
BPFI chief executive Brian Hayes (pictured) said that a recovery in mortgage activity in recent months in had not fully offset the sharp decline earlier in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“The continued strong performance of approvals suggests that there is a good pipeline for drawdowns in the first and second quarter of this year,” he said, though he added that it remained to be seen what impact the current lockdown would have on the mortgage market.
Mr Hayes said the value of drawdowns in the final quarter of 2020 was the highest for 12 years, led by first-time buyers.