Households owe €150bn to lenders

Households owed a combined €150.1bn to lenders as of the end of last year, according to figures from the Central Bank.

In comparison, the total amount consumers had on deposit with the main lending institutions totalled €86.2bn at the same point. This latter figure represented a 0.5% — or €390 million — fall compared to the preceding quarter, but a 3.3% decline when measured on a year-on-year basis.

The latest figures also show a 2.4% year-on-year fall in lending for house purchases, in the fourth quarter of 2011. This period marked the eighth consecutive quarterly decline in mortgage lending levels. As of the end of December, the level of outstanding mortgage loans — including securitised loans — stood at €130.6m. “Floating rate mortgages — which include standard variable rate, tracker rate and mortgages with a fixed rate up to one year — accounted for 86% of the outstanding amount of loans for house purchase on balance sheet at the end of December,” said the Central Bank.

“Tracker mortgages, by themselves, accounted for 49% of outstanding loans for house purchase to Irish residents on the credit institutions’ balance sheets.”

The latest figures were adjusted to take into account the exit of Bank of Scotland over a year ago.

Last month, a Central Bank survey showed a distinct slowdown in loan demand, across both consumers and businesses, during each of the last three months of 2011.

Separate figures released yesterday by the CSO, also showed that residential house prices fell by nearly 18% in the year to February. This was the biggest fall since Dec 2009.

Yesterday’s Central Bank credit statistics, meanwhile, also showed that — in the last quarter of 2011 — non-housing related lending accounted for 20%, or €19.6bn, of all credit listed on Irish institutional balance sheets. Such lending activity was down by €413m, or 2.1%, in the final quarter of last year.

“This largely reflected developments in finance for other purposes, which fell by €313m, while finance for investment purposes declined by €100m,” the Central Bank said.

Demand for lending for purposes other than house-buying peaked in the first quarter of 2009. By the end of last December, such lending had declined by 14.5% since that peak of nearly three years before.


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