Bank of Spain: Real Estate Loans Account for 40% of All New Lending

3 May 2018 – El Confidencial

The Spanish economy is returning to its roots. New real estate loans granted to households, in other words, lending that does not include the renegotiation of existing loans, is now growing at an annual rate of 17.4%. In total, such lending amounted to €36.5 billion in 2017.

And this is not a one-off blip. So far this year, although the rate of growth has softened, it still rose by 11.1% during the first quarter compared to the same period last year. That explains how real estate loans now account for 37.4% of all lending that households requested in 2017, which amounted to €97.5 billion in total.

Those €36.5 billion that were used to buy properties exceeded the amount spent on the purchase of consumer goods (€29.1 billion) and the amount that was financed through credit cards (€13.3 billion), whose growth was very significant.

Paradoxically, the most expensive financing – financial institutions apply significantly higher interest rates when consumer acquire goods using credit cards – grew by 20.3%. Therefore, by five times more than the increase in nominal GDP (with inflation).

Data from the Bank of Spain leaves no doubt about the recovery in real estate lending boosted by low interest rates, which explains that the number of renegotiations is still very active, although it has decreased with respect to two years ago, when many households changed the conditions of their loans to benefit from the European Central Bank (ECB)’s ultra-expansive monetary policy.

Specifically, between 2015 and 2017, Spanish households renegotiated loans amounting to almost €18.0 billion, which allowed them to benefit from the extraordinary monetary conditions. In fact, 1-year Euribor remains at -0.1890%, which has encouraged increasingly more households to opt for fixed-rate mortgages over variable rate products.

The average interest rate on new operations for the acquisition of homes amounted to 2.21% in February, which represented a slight increase of 16 hundredths with respect to the previous month. In any case, these are tremendously favourable real interest rates (with respect to inflation), which boost property sales.

Property bubble

The credit map reflecting the Bank of Spain’s statistics reveals two very different realities. On the one hand, as described, new real estate lending has soared, but on the other hand, the amount granted before 2008, which is when the real estate bubble burst, is continuing to fall very significantly. In other words, families are continuing to repay their loans and, therefore, reduce their indebtedness, but, at the same time, new operations are growing strongly.

A couple of pieces of data reflect this clearly. In 2011, the outstanding loan balance dedicated to real estate activities amounted to €298.8 billion, but by the fourth quarter of 2017, that quantity had decreased to €110.0 billion (…).

The importance of the real estate sector in the Spanish economy is key. And, in fact, the double recession was very closely linked to demand for housing, which fell by no less than 60% between 2007 and 2013. In particular, due to the drag effect on the other components of private consumption (…).

The data on real estate lending are logically consistent with those offered by Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE) on the constitution of mortgages, which reflect an increase of 13.8% in February (the most recent month for which data is available) compared to a year earlier. In total, 27,945 mortgages, with an average loan value of €119,708, were granted (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by Carlos Sánchez)

Translation: Carmel Drake

BBVA: House Sales Will Rise By 7% In 2017

11 April 2017 – Ok Diario

According to BBVA, the recovery in the real estate sector in Spain “is really taking hold”. The entity forecasts a 7% increase in property sales in 2017 and that investment in homes will grow by 3.2% during the same period. Meanwhile, it predicts that house prices will rise by 2.5%.

These are the most recent forecasts about the sector for 2017 from BBVA, which highlights that the “positive evolution” of the real estate market in 2016 displayed significant geographical heterogeneity, with Madrid, a large part of the Mediterranean Coast and the two island regions leading the recovery.

The entity said that 2017 will be marked by more moderate economic growth forecasts, of 2.7%, compared with 3.2% in 2016, and positive expectations in terms of property price rises.

In this way, the entity expects residential sales to grow by around 7% this year, and for prices to continue their recovery, with an increase of 2.5% YoY.

The revival of the mortgage market in recent years is helping to fuel growth in residential demand, says BBVA. In fact, new loan operations to households to finance the acquisition of a home increased again in 2016 to reach €37,500 million, up by 5% compared to the previous year.

Similarly, construction is continuing to respond positively to the growth in demand and prices, which is why the real estate sector is expected to generate growth for the economy once again. Investment in housing is expected to increase by 3.2%.

Growth with uncertainty

Nevertheless, BBVA warns that a number of risk factors have been building up in recent months, which could limit the scope and speed of the recovery.

Firstly, it warns that uncertainty persists relating to the outcome of Brexit. In addition to this geopolitical factor in Europe, the potential effects of decisions taken by the new administration in the USA and the increase in energy costs should also be taken into account.

Meanwhile, the increase in inflation in the Eurozone may lead to a change in monetary policy. During 2017, the ECB’s stimuli are expected to decrease, which could lead to an increase in interest rates at the end of 2018. “This increase in financial costs represents a risk for the Spanish economy”, said the entity.

In any case, BBVA highlighted that positive financing conditions, and the strong economic outlook, mean that the real estate sector closed 2016 with 460,000 transactions, up by 13.5% compared to 2016 (…).

Last year, the stock of finished housing continued to decline and prices grew by 1.9% on average, which shows that “the industry responded once again to the boost in demand”. Similarly, the number of building permits grew by almost 30% in 2016 to reach 64,000 permits, to record the third consecutive year of recovery. (…).

Original story: Ok Diario

Translation: Carmel Drake

Oliver Wyman: Mortgage Lending Will Triple By 2020

7 September 2016 – Expansión

Oliver Wyman warns that the banks are once again “relaxing” their criteria for granting home loans.

There is no going back in terms of the re-awakening of the real estate market. All indicators are pointing in favour of a recovery in the sector: GDP is enjoying annual growth of 3.2%, interest rates remain at historically low levels and the banks have started to ease their criteria for lending money in light of the need to give their income statements a boost.

In this context, the consultancy firm Oliver Wyman forecasts that the number of loans granted for house purchases will triple over the next five years to reach 550,000 signings per year by 2020. That figure would be equivalent to the constitution of 1,500 new mortgages per day, up from the current figure of 600 per day.

Behind this recovery in the real estate sector is a forecast acceleration in the creation of new households – the reduction in the level of unemployment will allow, amongst other things, young people to move out of the family home sooner – as well as the demand for homes that has been pent up during the crisis, which could amount to almost 300,000 homes. This last case involves households who have been waiting to buy a property for years, but who have not taken the plunge yet as they wait for the economic environment to improve and the price per square metre to stop falling. (…).

Oliver Wyman considers that its forecast for mortgage signings by 2020 represents the “equilibrium level” for an economy of the size of Spain’s. In other words, according to this company, the signing of 1,500 home loans per day would not result in the creation of a new real estate bubble like the one seen between 2005 and 2007. Between those dates, 1.3 million mortgages were signed in Spain per year: one for every 35 inhabitants.

Nevertheless, the financial consultancy does warn of a number of risks that could damage the local property market. They are linked to the worsening of the economic environment – in part due to the “political instability” that is paralysing the economy – , a sudden increase in Euribor combined with the gradual withdrawal of monetary stimulus at the world level – which would make monthly payments more expensive and which would increase the rate of default – and the granting of more credit to clients with higher risk profiles.

In this sense, the banks are now under pressure to stimulate their mortgage businesses to boost their income statements and face up to the growing competition from new digital agents who are increasingly operating in the sector.

The real estate market is still purging the excesses left over from the first decade of the century. During the second quarter of this year, 20,927 mortgages were foreclosed, which represents a reduction of 27% compared with the same period last year.

Of the total assets foreclosed, 57.1% were homes, and 30.6% of those were primary residences…according to figures published yesterday by Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE). In terms of the status of foreclosed homes, 13.6% were new homes, down by 25.1%, and the remainder (86.4%) were second-hand homes, down by 31.2%.

Original story: Expansión (by Victor Martínez)

Translation: Carmel Drake