The Banking and Payments Federation Ireland has called on the Government to extend the help-to-buy mortgage scheme beyond the end of this year.

The scheme offers first-time buyers a tax rebate of up to €20,000 when they take out a mortgage on a newly-built home.

The incentive first became available in 2016, with the scheme currently due to end on 31 December 2019.

The BPFI said that 92% of first-time buyers purchasing new properties used the scheme between last year and this year.

Its CEO Brian Hayes said the scheme had been "instrumental" in supporting first-time buyers, which account for almost half of the new mortgage market at present.

"In addition, purchase of a new home generally creates further expenditure of benefit to the economy across a range of items including furniture and fittings, white goods, insurance and utilities," he said. "For these reasons BPFI believes that the scheme should be extended for a clearly-defined period to provide the certainty that is needed going forward."