The number of mortgages taken out in Ireland is now running at 800 a day.

The first ever detailed breakdown of the Irish mortgage market shows a surprisingly strong level of activity with 209,000 mortgages being taken out each year.

The largest proportion of mortgages are taken out by people who already have a mortgage and are choosing to top it up to finance home extensions and the refinancing of more expensive loans. These account for 34% of all mortgages and the average amount of a top up mortgage is €89,000.

People who are moving to a new home account for 22% of mortgages, on average valued at €246,000.

First-time buyers account for 18% of new mortgages borrowing an average of €227,000. This still leaves first-time buyers with a shortfall of €82,500 for an average new house which they must find from other sources.

Investors are borrowing the highest amount of any group and account for 13.3% of mortgages. On average, they are borrowing €270,600 which is €43,000 more than first-time buyers and putting first-time buyers at a disadvantage.

Pat Farrell of the Irish Bankers Federation explains that investors borrow more and are more financially robust. He says that property price growth is being further driven by inward migration placing extra demand on housing.

It's very big business for solicitors, mortgage brokers and the financial institutions.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 6 September 2006. The reporter is George Lee.