Irish households cut debt by €43bn since crash but still owe €137bn

Central Bank figures show household debt here equates €28,186 per person

The figures show first-time buyers in Dublin typically had an average income of nearly €90,000, compared with an income of €68,454 for new buyers outside Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The figures show first-time buyers in Dublin typically had an average income of nearly €90,000, compared with an income of €68,454 for new buyers outside Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Irish households have shed €43 billion of debt over the past 10 years but remain among the most indebted in Europe.

Central Bank figures show household debt in the Republic stood at €136.9 billion, or €28,186 per person in first quarter of 2019. This was a third lower than the boom-time peak of €203 billion recorded in 2008.

Active deleveraging by households has reduced the debt burden by €43 billion over the last 10 years, the bank said, while the stock of debt has fallen by €64 billion.

Despite the reduction in headline debt, the Republic’s household debt-to-income ratio at 120 per cent remains the fifth highest in the European Union behind Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.

And experts say this may flatter the debt position of households here. This is because in calculating household debt, the Central Bank uses the market value of non-performing loans, many of which have been sold on by banks at a discount.

In most cases, however, the discounts have not been fully passed through to borrowers in arrears.

First-time buyers

The figures also show first-time homebuyers now account for nearly 50 per cent of new mortgage lending, the highest level on record.

The value of new mortgage lending in the second quarter was €2.25 billion. The average age of a first-time buyer (FTB) at 34 is now four years older than the age of borrowers at the height of the boom, suggesting it may be taking longer to save for a deposit.

The figures show FTBs in Dublin typically had an average income of nearly €90,000 (compared with an income of €68,454 for new buyers outside Dublin), and a deposit worth nearly 30 per cent of the value of the property.

They borrowed an average of €291,701 compared with non-Dublin FTBs (€198,980), for a property that is priced at €370,666 compared with €248,511 for properties outside the capital.

On average, Dublin FTBs spend a quarter of their net monthly income on mortgage repayments, while FTBs outside of Dublin spend a fifth. Some 40 per cent of new FTB lending outside Dublin was for a detached property, compared with 5 per cent in Dublin.

Cash sales in Dublin accounted for just under 23 per cent of house sales in the second quarter of 2019, down from more than 40 per cent five years ago.