Northern Ireland remortgages soar by 20% in last year
Homeowner remortgage numbers have soared by more than 20% over the last year, according to a new finance report.
Trade body UK Finance said there were 2,870 new homeowner remortgages here in the third quarter of 2019, 21.6% more than in the same quarter in 2018.
There were also 2,880 new first-time buyer mortgages in the third quarter of 2019, 6.7% more than in the same quarter in 2018.
And there were 1,880 new homemover mortgages - though that was down 2.6% on the same quarter in 2018.
The report also revealed that the total value of the remortgages was £318m, up 25.6% from the same quarter in 2018.
Mortgages for first-time buyers totalled £314m, up 10%, while mortgages for home movers totalled £259m, which was down 1%.
UK Finance defined remortgaging as "where a new mortgage contract is written" - mainly where a homeowner enters into a new home loan with a new lender.
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However, it excludes where a borrower refinances with the same lender.
But the figures do include people remortgaging for additional borrowing to cover expenditure such as home improvements.
But UK Finance said it could not say how many of the 2,870 remortgages were for additional borrowing.
Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank chief economist in Northern Ireland, said two out of three categories of mortgage activity posted faster rates of annual growth compared to the United Kingdom.
"The remortgage market is the fastest growing sector, with the number of loans surging by 21.6% y/y in Q3," he said.
"Remortgage activity (8,300 loans) are up almost one-fifth in the first three quarters of 2019 relative to the same period a year ago, which compares with a 1% y/y decline for the UK market as a whole. Since 2013, the first-time buyer market has become the most significant part of the local mortgage market.
"Indeed, last year FTB mortgage activity hit a 14-year high. 2019 looks set to be a 15-year high with the number of FTB loans up over 5% y/y with just one-quarter remaining.
"Home mover activity slumped by 80% from 2006 to 2012. While the level of home mover activity has doubled from its post-downturn trough, the level of activity remains subdued and now looks to be dipping. Home mover activity in NI in Q3 fell by almost 3% y/y.
"Overall, Northern Ireland's mortgage market remains in expansion mode."
But he added: "Given the challenging economic outlook, the mortgage market will not be insulated from wider economic developments.
"Expect a further slowdown in activity (outside of remortgages) in 2020."