Sherry FitzGerald insist that a lack of mortgage finance being provided to potential buyers remains one of the greatest barriers to stability in the residential property market and the group has called on the government to place lending targets on all Irish banks to help alleviate the problem.
Chief Economist for Sherry FitzGerald, Marian Finnegan, was responding to yesterday’s IBF/PwC report on the mortgage market, which revealed that there was only €2,463 million lent for mortgages last year – a 35% drop on 2010 levels and significantly down on the boom period.
Commenting on the report, Ms Finnegan said: “The incredibly low volume of mortgage lending in 2011, was one of the greatest barriers to stability in the residential market . That said, the uplift in activity in the fourth quarter, +2.6% in value and +6.9% in volume, when compared to quarter three is a hopefully an indicator of a change in sentiment towards residential mortgage lending.
“The paucity of lending in the Irish market is best illustrated by comparison with our near neighbours the UK. In 2011, approximately 850,000 mortgages were drawn down in the UK market. This equates to approximately 3.9% of the private housing stock. In contrast, 14,273 mortgages in Ireland equates to approximately 0.8% of occupied residential property in the country.”
Ms Finnegan said there are an increasing number of cash buyers entering the Irish market. An analysis of over 50 properties, which have sold through Sherry FitzGerald’s Dublin branches in the opening weeks of 2012, revealed that 29% of purchasers were cash purchasers.
Marian said this was an indicator both of increasing confidence in the market and the consumer’s recognition of the very challenging financial market.
“Rather than diminishing year on year, it is absolutely essential that the level of mortgage lending continues to increase notably,” she said.
A normal functioning market would require lending in the order of €11 billion per annum. To this end, it is essential that the Government places lending targets on all Irish banks in a manner akin to the initiative introduced for the SME sector in Budget 2012, then and only then will activity levels in the residential market begin to stabilise.”