Buy-to-let investors who traditionally would have bought with cash are now increasingly taking out mortgages to acquire properties, according to consultants Savills.

Its latest report on the residential property market found that the majority of investment properties were still being bought by cash, however, there was a 9% rise in the number of mortgage drawdowns by investors last year.

The proportion of investor purchases that are entirely cash-financed has fallen steadily for the last 15 months.

This shift represents investors' willingness to take on debt to acquire more properties, and banks' willingness to once again loan to some buy-to-let customers.

The Savills report also notes that investors are generally favouring properties in central locations, particularly those close to third level institutions and transport links.

Commenting on the figures, Director of Research at Savills Ireland John McCartney said: “Easy access to credit created a generation of highly geared investors in the first half of the 2000s. Following the bust, however, buy-to-let mortgages became harder to get.

“Consequently investors reverted to a more traditional cash-financed model in recent years,” he added.

Savills said it expects the number of investors gearing up with modest levels of debt to continue.