Pent-up demand drives mortgage approvals; support for 8,000 accounts on expired payment breaks

Pent-up demand drives mortgage approvals; support for 8,000 accounts on expired payment breaks

At almost 4,000, the number of mortgage loan approvals was down from November but were nonetheless up by almost 40% from December  2019. File picture: iStock

Pent-up demand for home loans following the first two of the Covid-19 lockdowns appears to have continued to drive up demand for mortgages late into 2020, with loan approvals up sharply in December from a year earlier, new figures from the banks suggest. 

At almost 4,000, the number of mortgage loan approvals was down from November but were nonetheless up by almost 40% from December 2019, according to the figures from the business group, Banking and Payments Federation Ireland, or BPFI.

By value, December's mortgage approvals were also up sharply from a year earlier.

For the whole of 2020, the number of mortgage approvals at just over 43,150 was the lowest for three years because of the Covid-19 restrictions, the BPFI said. However, they showed a large rebound in the final months of the year.                          

Mortgage brokers have said that home loan approvals fell sharply during the first lockdown last spring before banks had assessed the income of borrowers in receipt of wage-supports. 

Since then, the number of applications has risen sharply at a time when there are significantly fewer new homes being built.

The BPFI also released figures for payment breaks provided by banks during the pandemic which showed that 8,200 residential mortgage accounts and 800 landlord or buy-to-let mortgage accounts got "other forms of support from the lender when the payment breaks expired". 

The BFI said: "These include accounts that were already in arrears when the payment break was agreed."

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