HOME buying loans have increased dramatically in Northern Ireland during the first quarter of this year.
In what has been the biggest leap since 2007, latest figures show an increase of 26% with 3,200 loans totalling £340m borrowed from January to March.
First time buyers borrowed £160m in a total of 1,700 loans which was down 16% on the fourth quarter of 2015 but up 14% on the first quarter of last year.
Home movers represented the biggest percentage increase with £180m borrowed on 1,400 loans which were up 29% on the same period last year.
Remortgage activity was also up by 6% with a total of £170m borrowed on 1,600 loans.
Derek Wilson, Council of Mortgage Lenders Northern Ireland chair, said: “Lending in the beginning of the year is traditionally muted due to seasonal factors, as seen in the UK overall, but the year-on-year increases in first-time buyers and home movers are encouraging.
“This is the best performing first quarter of the year in Northern Ireland for house purchase lending since 2007, and remortgage levels have also stayed at a consistent level the past few quarters.
As with the rest of the UK, we are forecasting a gradual upward trend in lending in 2016 and 2017.”
Mr Wilson said that affordability for first-time buyers in Northern Ireland remained better than for the UK overall.
The amount borrowed this quarter compared to the previous was £90,000 up from £86,710 in 2015.
The average household income of a first-time buyers also increased to £31,327 from £30,434 last year.
Affordability for home movers shows a similar trend.
The amount borrowed this quarter compared to the previous was £113,245, up from £108,495.
The average household income of movers was £46,958 up from £45,938 last year.