Net household wealth rises to €883bn during pandemic — but the gains are spread unevenly    

Central Bank points out that, despite the headline €177k per person figure, household pay has fallen
Net household wealth rises to €883bn during pandemic — but the gains are spread unevenly    

The Central Bank says its net wealth figures 'may not reflect the underlying experiences of all households, or the distribution of wealth'.

The net wealth of households reached a new record of €883bn in the early months of this year, new figures show, but the high level of pandemic-related unemployment payments suggests that the gains are far from evenly spread.  

The Central Bank figures show that an increase in the value of financial investments including pensions during the pandemic, as well as the continued rise in house prices and older people paying down their mortgages, helped to lead to a further sharp rise of net household wealth of €28.5bn in the first quarter this year from the final quarter in 2020. 

The net wealth is equivalent to €177,493 for each person in the Republic, although the Central Bank adds that its figures "may not reflect the underlying experiences of all households, or the distribution of wealth". 

Household pay has fallen 

It said that "in contrast", total household pay had fallen, noting social transfers in the form of the pandemic unemployment payment and the wage subsidy scheme had risen sharply in the first quarter from a year earlier.

"These counteracting movements lessen the impact of unemployment and the fall in pay experienced by household net worth in aggregate," it said. 

Meanwhile, the Central Bank in separate figures showed that, at 2.74%, Irish new mortgage loan rates were the second highest after Greece in the eurozone in June. The average new mortgage loan across the eurozone stood at 1.27%.

The average fixed rate charged in Ireland in the same month for a new mortgage was slightly lower, at 2.61%, while the average for new variable rate mortgage loans stood at 3.4%. The figures show that business loans here also continue to be much higher than the eurozone average. 

Non-bank lenders offer competition

The average cost for a company borrowing up to €250,000 in June was 4.37%, which compares with the eurozone average of 1.94%. 

New corporate loans of up to €1m cost 3.08%, compared with 1.53% in the eurozone; and loans of over €1m cost companies an average of 2.52%, more than double the eurozone average cost of 1.2%.

Mortgage brokers said there is evidence that non-bank lenders, including Avant, ICS, and Finance Ireland are attracting business because of their competitive loan rates. 

"From a consumer perspective it is extremely positive to see non-bank lenders so committed to the mortgage market at a time when some banks have decided to exit," said Trevor Grant, who is chair of the Association of Irish Mortgage Advisors.

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