The new figures from BPFI showed a significant decline in mortgage switching, while overall mortgage approvals slowed down compared to January.
The number of people switching or topping up their mortgage dropped from 877 in January to 634 in February, a decline of 27.7%. Compared to February 2022, it declined by 30.9%. The total value of non-purchase mortgages in February came to €144m, down from €205m in January.
Mr Hayes said that while the figures showed a slowdown in approvals across all customer segments in terms of volume and value, it is in the context of a “significant decline we are seeing in switching activity”. He stated that this fall was “expected given the substantial wave of switching undertaken by customers in recent months”, with almost €4.3bn in new non-purchase approvals in the year to the end of January.
Despite the slowdown seen in February, Mr Hayes added that mortgage activity remains at “historically high levels”, with demand being particularly strong among first-time buyers. The total number of mortgages approved in February stood at 3,378, down from 3,697 in January, a decrease of 8.6%, and the 3,894 recorded in February last year, a decrease of 13.3%.
Of these approvals, the majority, 1,877, were for first-time buyers, while mover purchases accounted for 801. The value of mortgages approved in February came to €945m, which is also down from the over €1bn recorded in January. The value of mortgages approved in February 2022 came to €1.028bn.
In the year up to February, 57,836 mortgages were approved, valued at €15.85bn. This is a clear indication that the mortgage market remains buoyant in Ireland, despite the slowdown in mortgage switching and overall mortgage approvals in February.
It is worth noting that the housing market in Ireland has been experiencing significant growth in recent years, with prices increasing at a rapid rate. This has led to concerns about affordability for first-time buyers, who are the most active group in the market. While the BPFI figures show a decline in mortgage switching and overall approvals, the fact that demand remains high among first-time buyers is an encouraging sign for the market as a whole.
In conclusion, while there has been a slowdown in mortgage switching and overall mortgage approvals in February, the BPFI figures show that demand for mortgages remains strong among first-time buyers, and the mortgage market in Ireland is still operating at historically high levels. The fall in mortgage activity was expected given the wave of switching seen in recent months, and it remains to be seen whether this trend will continue in the coming months.