Ireland once again has the highest mortgage interest rates in the euro zone, new figures from the Central Bank show.
The average interest rate on new Irish mortgage agreements stood at 2.69% in December, compared to euro area average of 1.29%.
Ireland is followed by Greece at 2.55% and Latvia at 2.26%.
Finland has the lowest average rates in the euro zone in December at just 0.77%, closely followed by Portugal at 0.82%
Figures from Banking and Payments Federation Ireland in December showed that the average first-time buyer mortgage in Ireland is around €262,000.
This means someone borrowing this amount over 30 years is paying almost €180 extra a month, or over €2,100 a year, compared to our European neighbours.
Today’s Central Bank figures also show that the average interest rate on new consumer loans was 7.49% in December – again higher than the equivalent euro area rate stood at 5.06%.
Despite having the highest rates in Europe, Irish mortgage rates continue to creep downwards and are now at record lows.
Daragh Cassidy, head of communications at comparison and switching website bonkers.ie, said the fall in mortgage rates over the past year is obviously welcome and the overall trend is downward, albeit very slowly.
“However it’s still deeply frustrating that rates here remain so high compared to our euro zone neighbours,” Mr Cassidy said.
“Higher mortgage rates add hugely to the cost of living in Ireland, which as we know is already extremely high compared to the rest of Europe. According to Eurostat, Irish housing costs such as rent, mortgage rates, gas and electricity are a staggering 78% above the European average,” he added.
Mortgage lending in Ireland is considered risky, partly because banks here have difficulty enforcing security if a loan goes into arrears.
As a result, Irish banks must hold around three times the level of capital to safeguard against potential loan losses compared to banks in the rest of Europe and Irish banks say this is one of the main reasons why mortgage rates here remain so high.
Today’s Central Bank figures also show that the volume of new mortgage agreements amounted to €955m in December 2021, unchanged from December the previous year. It also represented a 13% increase on November.
Renegotiated mortgages amounted to €200m in December, an increase of 20% on the previous year, the Central Bank said. The average interest rate for all renegotiated mortgages was 2.81%in December, it added.