Phenomenal slump in Mayo mortgage market revealed

by Caoimhín Rowland

Recent data obtained by The Connaught Telegraph underscores a sharp decline in the number of mortgages granted to Mayo residents over the past decade.

This drop in mortgage approvals comes at a time when the county is experiencing record-breaking full employment.

During the depths of the 2011 recession, marked by soaring emigration rates and employment challenges, the number of mortgages issued stood at 4,065.

Fast forward to 2022, a year of unprecedented levels of full employment, and that number plummeted to a mere 1,110, marking a staggering decline of 2,955.

This striking downward trend sees a 72.7% reduction in the population of 25 to 44-year-olds - prime ages for home buying - being able to purchase a property.

That accounts for every four people who could get a mortgage in 2011 - only one of them can get approval for a home loan in 2022.

“You’re talking about three-quarters of the population being frozen out from owning their own home,” Independent Mayo councillor Michael Kilcoyne said.

The Castlebar-based politician remarked upon the causes for this phenomenal decrease.

“Regulatory changes implemented by the central bank and government in the wake of the economic crash have introduced stricter lending criteria, capping borrowing at 3.5 times one's annual income for first time buyers.

"So is it any wonder we’re seeing young people emigrate," Kilcoyne concluded.

While these measures post-crash were aimed at curbing reckless lending, they may now be perceived as overly stringent, given soaring property prices.

Rising property costs have forced many residents into a paradoxical situation where they pay rents equivalent to, or even surpassing, potential mortgage payments.

Limited competition in the banking and credit union sectors further compounds the problem, leaving aspiring homeowners with few options.