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Real-estate concentration in the Irish banking system

Paul Lyons, Ciarán Nevin and Frances Shaw
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Paul Lyons: Central Bank of Ireland
Ciarán Nevin: Central Bank of Ireland
Frances Shaw: Central Bank of Ireland

No 4/FS/19, Financial Stability Notes from Central Bank of Ireland

Abstract: Globally, there is evidence that vulnerabilities in real-estate markets have been the trigger for many financial crises. In this Note, we assess the concentration in real-estate exposures of the Irish banking system in a historic and European context. Despite a substantial reduction in overall lending balances since the Irish financial crisis, we find that the overall level of concentration in real-estate lending has remained relatively stable.We also find that the Irish banking system is more concentrated in real-estate lending than its European peers. We show that the composition of concentration has changed, with the share of residential mortgages increasing and the share of commercial real estate decreasing. This high degree of concentration of the Irish banking system in real-estate exposures underlines the importance of prudent underwriting by the banking system. The Central Bank’s mortgage market measures help in this regard, by protecting banks and borrowers against a marked loosening of such underwriting. In doing this, the measures serve to strengthen the resilience of a concentrated system.

Date: 2019-05
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