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Mortgage lending has surged by 41pc at the 100 credit unions who offer home loans.

The member-owned lenders have some of the lowest mortgage rates in the country, with some offering rates of just 2.95pc.

400,000 loans worth a total value of €2.5bn in the past 12 months, the Irish League Of Credit Union’s latest Financial Highlights reveal.

Because credit unions use member savings to fund mortgages, they do not increase their rates as banks do when the European Central Bank raises its rates.

The ECB has hiked its key rates nine times in just over a year with a threat of a 10th rise this week. Credit unions are not influenced by the ECB rate.

There are just over 200 credit unions in the State, with half of them now offering mortgages.

In the year to June, credit unions affiliated to the Irish League of Credit Unions lobby group had issued almost 1,000 mortgages collectively – valued at €320m.

The sector has big plans to take on the banks in the home-loans sector.

The member-owned lenders are looking at setting up a centralised mortgage company, with the aim of getting to a point of issuing one in 10 of all mortgages in this market.

Such a centralised services company would allow the sector to have common mortgage rates, a centralised underwriting facility and shared marketing

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