The level of mortgage drawdowns is now at its highest since the boomtime of the Celtic Tiger era.
Close to 53,000 mortgages were drawn down last year, with a value of more than €14bn, according to the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI).
This is the highest number and value of mortgage drawdowns since 2008, the peak of the boom that ended in a property price crash. The number of new mortgages is up 21pc on the previous year.
The number of first-time buyers drawing down a mortgage had now hit levels last seen in 2007, the banking lobby group said in a report on home-lending activity last year.
The BPFI said that, over the past five years, first-time buyers had drawn down close to 108,000 home loans.
A total of 58,276 mortgages to the value of €15.8bn were approved last year, but not all of these ended up being issued, because home buyers could not find a property at a price they could afford.
The surge in the value and number of borrowers comes after a sustained period of double-digit property price growth and close to 30,000 homes being built last year.
In the last three months of 2022 alone, almost 16,000 new mortgages to the value of €4.3bn were drawn down by borrowers.
This is a jump of close to 20pc in the number of mortgages issued, and a rise of 31.5pc in the value of the home loans compared with the last three months of 2021.
First-time buyers are the biggest group getting a housing loan.
They represent almost half (47pc) of the number of drawdowns.
Chief executive of the banking body Brian Hayes said the figures showed what he called a significant number of both drawdowns and approvals, and it was a particularly strong year for first-time buyers.
“Drawdown volumes rose by 21pc to 52,634, while values rose by 34.3pc to almost €14.1bn. These were the highest levels since 2008,” he said.
Mr Hayes added that first-time property purchasers continued to drive the growth.
Around 25,000 of the mortgages drawn down last year were for first-time buyers.
Mr Hayes said the number of first-time buyer mortgages was at its highest level since 2007. It was 26pc higher than in 2008.
By contrast, mover-purchase volumes were 47pc lower than in 2008.
Mr Hayes said: “Looking to the year ahead, we expect housing and mortgage demand to remain strong despite the challenging economic environment.
“Almost 108,000 first-time buyer loans have been drawn down in the past five years and lenders will continue to support customers as they seek to buy or build a home.”
Figures for December show that 3,635 mortgages were approved in that month.
Close to half were for first-time buyers, while movers account for around a fifth of the approvals.
The number of mortgages approved in December fell by 33.1pc in the month when compared with November, and by 5.7pc when last December is compared with the same month in the previous year.
Mortgages approved in December were valued at €996m.
Meanwhile, research undertaken by the Irish League of Credit Unions has found that those considering upgrades to their home are focused on cost savings as well as other factors such as comfort and warmth, and to be more climate-friendly.
The survey of 1,000 people, undertaken by iReach, shows that three-quarters of people who are planning to carry out home energy upgrades are motivated by potential savings to their bills.
Source: Irish Independent. 1st February 2023