DUBLIN May 20 The number of new mortgages
issued in Ireland fell to their lowest first-quarter level since
data was first collected eight years ago, further tempering
hopes that house prices would begin to rebound following a
devastating property crash.
Irish residential property values have fallen by half since
2008 but a gradual month-by-month rise in house prices last year
as well as quarterly increases in the number of mortgages being
approved raised hopes that the market was recovering.
While prices in Dublin were 3 percent higher in March
compared a year ago, they fell for the fourth successive month
across the country and data on Monday showed that just 2,068
mortgages were drawn down in the first quarter of the year.
That compared to 2,630 a year ago and over twice that amount
in the final quarter of 2012, just before the expiry of a
government stimulus plan offering mortgage interest relief to
those buying their first home.
Economists see a stabilization of the property market as
vital to allowing Irish banks and households recover and
generate the growth needed to pay off debts that forced Dublin
to seek an international bailout in late 2010.