Mortgage switching volumes and values more than doubled in May compared to the same month last year, according to new figures from Banking and Payments Federation Ireland.

Over 1,200 households switched their mortgage last month, up over 111% on the same time last year, while the value of these mortgages increased by over 129% year-on-year to €329 million.

The increased activity comes ahead of rate hikes from the European Central Bank.

Earlier this month, the ECB said it would increase rates next month for the first time since 2011, followed by a potentially larger move in September – if inflation does not cool down.

This has caused many mortgage holders to seek out lower – and longer term fixed rates.

The latest BPFI figures show that switching levels last month were at the highest ever recorded since it started collecting the data in 2011.

"Our latest mortgage approvals data shows continued growth in mortgage approval activity in May and it's clear that switching activity has grown sharply in recent months," said Brian Hayes, Chief Executive of BPFI.

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In total, 5,355 mortgages were approved in May, of which first-time buyers (FTBs) accounted for just over 49%, while mover purchasers accounted for 20%.

The number of mortgages approved rose by 24.4% on the previous month and by 14.3% compared with the same period last year.

Meanwhile, the value of mortgage approvals rose by 24.8% month-on-month and by 25.3% year-on-year.

Mortgages approved during the month were valued at €1.45 billion - of which FTBs accounted for €732 million and mover purchasers for €346 million.

"FTBs still accounted for about half of mortgage approvals both in volume and value terms, these latest June figures are notably dominated by mortgage switching activity and May was one of the strongest performances recorded for FTB approvals," said Mr Hayes.

"This is particularly true for approval values, with a significant increase in average loan values year on year driving strong growth in lending values.

"This is likely driven by higher housing prices. In fact, May 2022 saw the second highest recorded value for FTB approvals, after October 2020, and the seventh highest for mover purchase," he added.