New figures from the Central Bank show the volume of new mortgage agreements rose by 9% to reach €609m in March.

This brings new mortgage deals to €1.7 billion over the first quarter of the year.

But today's Central Bank figures show that Irish mortgage holders continue to pay one of the highest interest rates in the euro zone.

The average interest rate on all new mortgages agreed in Ireland stood at 3% in March, down 21 basis points on the same time last year, but still considerably higher that the euro zone average of 1.74%. 

Only Greece had higher interest rates in March, while Finland had the lowest at under 1%.

Today's Central Bank figures also reveal that fixed rate mortgages, including renegotiations, accounted for 71% of all new mortgages in March. This compared with 81% of new loans in the euro zone.

The Central Bank also said the standard variable rates for Principal Dwelling Home mortgage drawdowns fell by 16 basis points over the past year to 3.14% at the end of the first quarter. 

Fixed rates for new home mortgage drawdowns stood at 2.85% at the end of March, down 18 basis points on the same time last year. 

It noted that fixed rate mortgages accounted for 76% of home mortgage drawdowns, with a majority of these mortgages fixed over three years.

Meanwhile, variable mortgage rates for new buy-to-let mortgage drawdowns averaged 4.6% in the first quarter of the year, down 13 basis points from 2018, while fixed rate BTL mortgages decreased by 17 basis points to 4.39%.

The Central Bank said that variable mortgage rates accounted for 80% of new BTL mortgage drawdown in the three month period.