Ireland’s mortgage rates are no longer the highest in the eurozone but consumers have still been warned to shop around to avoid being overcharged.
New figures from the Central Bank found that the average interest rate for all new mortgages agreed in Ireland during November was 3.04 per cent. This was the second highest after Greece, where the average rate was nearly 3.5 per cent.
Irish mortgage rates were consistently the highest in the eurozone during 2018, although they started to decline towards the end of the year. Mortgage rates are still much higher than in the rest of the eurozone, where the average rate is 1.8 per cent.
Bonkers.ie, a price comparison website, compared the difference in Irish mortgage rates and the average eurozone rate on a 30-year loan worth €225,000, the average mortgage for first-time buyers in Ireland. A first-time buyer here would pay €953 a month while in the eurozone they would pay €808, the company said.
Daragh Cassidy, head of communications at Bonkers.ie, said the trend of falling mortgage rates was “obviously welcome” but “we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we continue to pay higher rates than almost every other country in the eurozone and have done for years”.
Joey Sheahan, head of credit at MyMortgages.ie, said that rates may be reducing because of a higher level of competition in the market. “We have seen new entrants into the market such as Finance Ireland, and banks are trying to win business from each other and gain market share,” he said. With a view to doing this they are reviewing rates downward.”
Banks have argued that mortgage rates in Ireland are higher because of the difficulty in repossessing a home, which they say makes lending riskier.
MyMortgages Limited trading as MyMortgages.ie is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.