Mortgage approvals on the rise but loan values decline

New figures show 3,875 approvals in August, of which first-time buyers accounted for 58%

The number of mortgage applications approved last month rose by 14.1 per cent compared to July, and was up 11 per cent year-on-year, new figures show.

Overall 3,875 mortgages were approved in August, of which first-time buyers accounted for 58 per cent of the total volume.

The value of mortgages approved totalled €946 million, up 16.7 per cent versus July but down 2.3 per cent compared to August 2019.

First-time buyer approval was up 1.4 per cent year-on-year to 2,559, while mover purchase volumes fell 17.8 per cent to 1,000.


Residential investment letting approvals were down 43.5 per cent versus August 2019 to just 78.

Remortgage/switching volumes declined 20 per cent year-on-year to 376, while top-up approvals fell 46.7 per cent to 162.

There were 39,610 mortgage approvals in the 12 months to the end of August, down 1.2 per cent versus the previous year in terms of volume and 0.24 per cent lower in value terms.

Annualised purchase mortgage approval volumes fell by 0.77 per cent compared to the prior period to 31,622, while the value was down 0.06 per cent to €7.6 billion.

"Following on from a strong uplift in mortgage approval activity in July compared to the previous month, this further uplift in August provides a much-improved pipeline for mortgage drawdown activity in the months ahead, notwithstanding the fact that overall activity is still down year-on-year," said Dr Ali Ugur, chief economist with Banking and Payments Federation Ireland, which compiled the figures.

There were 3,337 purchase mortgage approvals in August, which collectively were valued at €834 million. Purchase mortgage approval activity was down by 6.8 per cent in volume terms versus August 2019 and down 0.6 per cent in value.

“We know that actual mortgage drawdowns were down by around 18 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2020, and this comes as no surprise in light of Covid-19. But if recent approvals convert into drawdowns as they normally do, we could expect to see a better outcome than originally estimated back in April/May,” said Dr Ugur.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist