Bank-financed property transactions rise a notch
by Nikos Roussanoglou,, 27 November 2014

The last few months have seen a significant improvement in funding from banks for property transactions, according to the latest Bank of Greece data.

In the year to end-October the share of house or apartment transactions with the contribution of bank loans grew to 20 percent, while in the first half of 2014 that rate had not exceeded 15 percent and last year it had stood at 17 percent. A small increase was also recorded in the average rate of borrowing, which amounted to 35 percent of the full value of properties purchased, up from 33 percent in the January-June period.

These rates remain far below those recorded in 2009, when the average share of loans reached 70 percent of properties' value, with the ruse of additional construction loans often taking the financing rate up to 100 percent. Banks participated in 82 percent of transactions at the time.

Still, this latest development constitutes one of the precious few positive indications regarding the future course of the housing market that has not only been harmed by the economic crisis and its consequences but also by the abstention of banks from issuing new loans. Soaring nonperforming loans and uncertainty over their settlement are holding up any further improvement in property market funding conditions, despite the significant buying opportunities emerging in comparison with the recent past.

The small increase in the credit system's participation in funding may help bank-financed transactions bottom out next year after reaching an estimated 16,000 this year. That compares with 148,100 transactions seven years ago, which shrank to 30,900 in 2012 and 23,800 in 2013. A significant share of this year's transactions funded by banks do not concern new loans but valuations for the refinancing of existing loans.

In the third quarter of the year banks participated in 4,219 transactions, against 3,488 in the second quarter, and down from 4,493 transactions in the third quarter of last year.