Mortgage approvals up 20% in January

By Geoff Percival

Mortgage approvals grew by 20%, year-on-year, in January, new figures from Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) show.

In the final quarter of 2017 the value of approvals increased by 15%, the BPFI said. More than 80% of January’s approvals, measured by value, were accounted for by first-time buyers and mover-purchasers.

“We are forecasting new mortgage lending to grow by 20% in 2018, leading to net mortgage lending growth of 1.1% year-on-year. Key in achieving these forecasts will be ongoing growth in new housing supply, which, we estimate, needs to treble to catch up with medium-term household demand,� said Dermot O’Leary, chief economist with Goodbody Stockbrokers.

Meanwhile, it is understood the Central Bank is open-minded on any new legislation targeting tighter regulation of so-called vulture funds which are increasingly buying up distressed mortgage books from the mainstream banks. Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank have, in the past week, indicated their intentions to sell chunks of their non-performing homeloan books.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is set to accept Fianna Fáil’s bill to regulate the buyers of mortgage books, but has indicated amendments will be needed.

Central Bank governor Philip Lane is due to offer a cautiously optimistic view on the global economy in an address to the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) in Dublin next week.

However, it is also understood that the Central Bank believes Irish businesses have more work to do to prepare for Brexit.


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