Covid-19 crisis set to hit mortgage market activity

Updated / Wednesday, 6 May 2020 08:18

A total of 8,728 new mortgages worth €1.996 billion were drawn down by borrowers during the first quarter of 2020, but challenges are looming

New figures from Banking and Payments Federation Ireland show that a total of 8,728 new mortgages worth €1.996 billion were drawn down by borrowers during the first quarter of 2020.

BPFI said this represents an increase 1.8% in volume and 6% in value on the corresponding first quarter of 2019.  

Today's figures show a fall of 28.8% in volume and 27.9% in value compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, but BPFI said noted that the first quarter is typically the weakest quarter in any year and the fourth quarter is the strongest.

Meanwhile, first-time buyers remained the single largest segment by volume (50.4%) and by value (50.8%). 

BPFI also published today the latest figures from its Mortgage Approvals Report for March, which showed that a total of 3,733 mortgages were approved during the month.

The number of mortgages approved rose by 6.2% month-on-month but fell by 9.9% compared with the same time last year.

BPFI said the number of mortgages approved rose by 6.2% month-on-month but fell by 9.9% compared with the same time last year.

Mortgages approved in March were valued at €879m, up by 6.5% on a monthly basis but down 4.5% year-on-year.

Brian Hayes, chief executive of BPFI, said today's figures are broadly in line with what it would have expected to see in a pre-Covid landscape with the approvals figures in particular reflecting a tapering off in the mortgage market over the past 12 months due to the growing affordability challenge for buyers. 

"Looking ahead, there is no doubt that the period ahead is going to be challenging for the mortgage market and the housing market as a whole, given the changing conditions in the economy and its direct impact on incomes and employment," Mr Hayes said.

Mr Hayes said he expects to see the first effects of Covid-19 on the mortgage market coming through in April's mortgage approvals figures which will be published at the end of May. 

"The change in individuals' financial and employment circumstances will have an impact on mortgage approvals, with banks taking a pragmatic and responsible assessment of all applications from both a borrower and lender perspective," he stated. 

"Taking out a mortgage is a major undertaking for borrowers, and no lender wants to see a borrower under distress or difficulty, especially in these highly uncertain times," he added.