Fitch: House Prices Are Going to Rise At A Faster Rate Than Salaries

20 February 2017 – El Economista

On Thursday, the ratings agency Fitch warned that access to housing in Spain is going to gradually worsen as a result of the difficulties facing the labour market.

In its report about the outlook for the real estate and mortgage market in 2017, the ratings agency forecasts that house prices in Spain are going to rise at a faster rate than salaries, which means that the accessibility of housing is going to deteriorate.

“Fitch expects the accessibility of housing to gradually worsen given that any recovery in salaries will be lower than the increase in house prices, taking into account the challenges facing the labour market”, said the agency, which added that access to the real estate market will be “especially difficult” for first-time buyers.

Fitch expects the positive trend observed in house prices, which rose by 4% during the third quarter of 2016, to continue thanks to “robust economic growth”, the maturity of the mortgage market and foreign demand, which currently accounts for 13% of transactions.

Nevertheless, it says that the two-speed market will continue, given that the “bulk” of the recovery will focus on homes whose quality and location place them above average.

Slow down due to floor clauses

On the other hand, Fitch thinks that the legal uncertainties surrounding the floor clauses and the reform of the mortgage market will slow down the growth experienced since 2014 for the granting of loans to buy homes.

“The rate of growth in loans will slow down from the levels seen in 2015 and during the first half of 2016, given that Spain’s banks will adopt a more cautious approach in the face of the legal uncertainties that are affecting the mortgage market”, said the agency.

Nevertheless, it considers that the rise in house prices and the favourable loan environment, thanks to low interest rates, are still offsetting the repayment of loans in progress.

Finally, Fitch thinks that Spain’s banks will continue to reduce their exposure to toxic assets by divesting their non-strategic businesses, such as their non-performing loans and foreclosed properties.

Original story: El Economista

Translation: Carmel Drake

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