First-time buyers are being priced out of Dublin and into the commuter belt - and not necessarily by choice - the latest Market Monitor report from the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland shows.

The BPFI monitor reveals that the share of first-time mortgages for homes in the commuter belt - Louth, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow - has increased to around 41% so far this year.

This is a trend that the report said will likely put pressure on the infrastructural needs of these areas, including services such as transport, schools and healthcare.

The BPFI monitor also shows that the number of houses being built continues to grow, with the upward trend mainly driven by a significant rise in new apartments coming on stream.

The third quarter of 2019 saw an 81% increase in the number of apartments built, compared with the same time in 2018.

Today's monitor also reveals that about 7,600 dwelling units were started in the third quarter of the year.

This brought the total number of commencements to 19,856 units in the first nine months of 2019, which is up 22% on the same time last year.

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Meanwhile, mortgage activity, in terms of drawdowns and approvals, more than tripled between 2011 and 2018.

The BPFI said that mortgage approval volumes rose by 8.8% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2019, while mortgage drawdown volumes grew by 8.5%.

Ali Uğur, chief economist at BPFI, said that despite stabilising house prices and encouraging signs in relation to housing supply, first-time buyers continue to face affordability challenges, which are placing serious limitations on where they can afford to buy, particularly in Dublin.

He said this is reflected in the increasing shift of buyers to areas outside of Dublin, which is likely to negatively impact not only these regions but the wider economy in general.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Uğur said that apartments now represent an increasing number of homes that are available, adding that there was demand for more apartments in the market.

However, he said there was still a way to go before the level of supply needed was actually reached.

The economist said that rising incomes and a stabilising of house prices should make it easier for more people to purchase homes.

He also noted that around 25% of buyers are cash buyers. This can be explained by people trading down, he said.

There are still a number of properties outside Dublin with very low prices, which could also explain the cash sale transactions, he added.