New rise in those seeking mortgage approval

The move by the Central Bank to tighten lending rules at the start of this year has failed to dampen the mortgage market.

New figures show a bounce in the number of first-time buyers seeking mortgage approval. Some 1,500 new buyers sought the go-ahead to take out a home loan last month, up 100 on the previous month.

When all buyers are added together, the figures from the Banking and Payments Federation show that in January, 3,145 new mortgages were approved.

This is up 400 on the previous month.

The average amount that first-time buyers are applying for has jumped by €20,000 in a year, to €220,000.

This suggests property prices will continue to rise, said Davy Stockbrokers analyst David McNamara.

“The data also suggest that house prices will continue to grow at a robust pace,” he said. He expects house-price inflation to slow to 8pc from 12pc currently. Property experts said soaring rents were prompting more people to apply for a mortgage.

There has also been a rise in the numbers getting loan approval to move house. Close to 1,000 homeowners got cleared for a mover mortgage in January, up 125 on the December figure.

The numbers getting approval for an investor mortgage rose by close to 50pc in January, to 176.

Mr McNamara said the figures suggested that the tightening of the Central Bank lending rules at the start of the year did not slow down lending applications.

From January the regulator restricted the number of mortgages banks can issue that breach the rule that says you can borrow no more than three-and-a-half times your income.

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