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Irish households have third highest debt in Europe

Irish homes have the third largest household debts in Europe, a report shows.

Latest official figures reveal that, on average, every man, woman and child in Ireland has 33,555 euro in borrowings.

The overall figure totals 151.2 billion euro in private household debts, significantly higher than the average across Europe.

In Ireland, households have debts running at more than one and half times their income. Across Europe, borrowers owe around 95% of their wages on average.

Only homes in Denmark and the Netherlands, renowned for being among the most expensive countries in Europe, have higher private debt.

These debts, which include mortgages, car loans and other short-term borrowings, are owed to banks and other lenders.

They do not include public debt being paid off by Irish households through taxes and levies.

Although Ireland owes more than most of its European neighbours, the latest Household Credit report from the Central Bank shows private finances are improving.

Private borrowings are getting lower compared with incomes.

The Central Bank says this suggests a “further improvement in the debt sustainability of households”.

More than a half of all household debt – around 88.2 billion euro – is home loans.

Another 21.5 billion euro is buy-to-let mortgages for investment properties, while almost a billion euro is mortgages for holiday homes.

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The latest figures show around 45% of home loan borrowers in Ireland still have tracker rate mortgages with interest rates as low as 1.1%.

Most others are on variable rate mortgages with rates as high as 4%.

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