New figures from the Central Bank show that Irish mortgage holders continue to pay the second highest interest rates in the euro zone.

The average interest rate on all new mortgages issued here in August stood at 2.99%, down two basis points since the beginning of the year but up from 2.98% in July.

This compares to the average rate of 1.48% for the euro area - a new record low. Only Greek mortgage interest rates higher than Irish rates in August.

Price comparison and consumer website said that first-time buyers here are paying over €173 more on average every month compared to euro zone average.

Daragh Cassidy, from, said that for all the talk of falling interest rates and a mortgage price war in recent months, the average rate in Ireland is down only two basis points since the beginning of the year.

This compares to a fall of over 30 basis points in the euro zone.

Mr Cassidy said there is still a lack of competition in the Irish mortgage market as it remains heavily concentrated in the hands of a few main banks

"Although competition has improved in recent times, it's still below where it needs to be and this is leading to higher rates. The issue around home repossessions, and the inability of banks to take back a loan that has gone bad, is also a factor," he added.

Today's Central Bank figures also show that the volume of new mortgage agreements came to €753m in August. 

This brought new home loan agreements for the first eight months of the year to €5.4 billion, up almost 12% on the same time last year.

The Central Bank noted that fixed rate mortgages continued to increase in popularity and accounted for 76% of new mortgage agreements. 

The increase brings Ireland closer to the euro area preference for fixed rate mortgages, the Central Bank said.

Meanwhile, the bank also said that interest rates on new household term deposits remained close to zero in August, coming in at just 0.05%, as ECB rates remain at record lows.

The equivalent euro area rate stood at 0.33%.