ECE: Piata locuintelor in revenire, mai accesibila decat inaintea crizei

Evolutia preturilor locuintelor in tarile din Estul si Centrul Europei (ECE) a intrat in 2015 pe un trend de crestere in ansamblu, existand insa o serie de divergente date de diferentele specifice de la tara la tara. In paralel, cresterea salariilor, relansarea activitatii economice si/sau relansarea creditarii fac insa ca locuintele sa fie mai accesibile populatiei decat erau inainte de criza.

in Polonia, pretul mediu pe metru patrat a crescut in prima jumatate a acestui an cu 1,5%. In Romania, in primul semestru al lui 2015 s-a inregistrat o crestere 3,8% a preturilor de pe piata imobiliara, conform datelor Eurostat …

… iar in Slovacia, preturile au crescut in trimestrul III 2015 cu 1,2% fata de aceeasi perioada a anului trecut.

In paralel, cresterea salariilor, relansarea activitatii economice si/sau relansarea creditarii fac insa ca locuintele sa fie mai accesibile populatiei decat erau inainte de criza. Astfel, in Polonia, cresterea salariului mediu lunar (in termeni nominali) din ultimii ani, permitea, la final de an 2014, achizitia a 0,65 m patrati de spatiu locativ – spre deosebire de 2008, cand, acelasi salariu mediu lunar echivala cu doar 0,43 m patrati. In Slovacia, pretul mediu al locuintelor era de 1229 EUR pe metru patrat in prima parte a lui 2015, in crestere fata de anii anteriori, dar inca mult sub nivelul atins in 2008 (de 1511 EUR pe metru patrat). In Serbia – referinta fiind piata din Belgrad – pretul mediu a atins un maxim de 1500 EUR pe metru patrat in 2008, situandu-se in prima jumatate din 2015 la nivelul de 1109 EUR/mp. Deasemeni in Ungaria locuintele au devenit mai accesibile, numarul anilor de munca necesari pentru achizitia unui apartament s-a injumatatit in 2015 fata de 2010, pana la nivelul de 8,6.

Sursa: Apartments more expensive, but still more affordable than before crisis

Have real estate prices reached pre-crisis levels?

Croatia: The hedonic real estate price index (2010=100) shows that the fall of real housing prices in Croatia ended during 2014, but the price level is at its lowest since 2004. The value of the index in pre-crisis 2008 reached 113.6, while the value of the index in 2015 is 80.2. Looking forward, we do not expect a stronger rise in real estate prices in the short run, as there is still oversupply on the market and demand remains weak from the fundamental point of view (also visible in weak housing credit), while demographic trends do not provide any boost.

Czech Republic: The housing market has been recovering since the beginning of 2014. We have seen significant growth in apartment prices in 2015, in line with growth in real economic activity, the strengthening of the labor market and relatively low mortgage rates. For example, in 2Q15, prices of new flats increased by 5.5%, while prices of pre-owned flats rose by 4.7%. We currently do not see any bubble in the Czech housing market, as it is recovering after two recessions (2009 and 2012-13) and the price developments at the beginning of 2014 were relatively cautious. The price index is still slightly below pre-crisis levels. But there are two issues: the precrisis level was influenced by a bubble and there are significant differences between prices in Prague and the rest of the Czech Republic. Thus, from our point of view, prices in Prague are now above fundamental prices from the pre-crisis period, whereas there is still a lag – now decreasing – between current and pre-crisis prices outside the Czech capital.

Hungary: According to the FHB Residential Real Estate Price index, real estate prices have not so far reached pre-crisis levels either in real or nominal terms. The index shows that prices in nominal terms have come closer to, but remained below, the peak; in real terms the gap is even bigger. Looking at price-to-income ratios, it is clear that in terms of proportion of disposable income, apartment prices have become significantly more affordable since the peak in 2010, as the required years of income to purchase an apartment almost halved, to 8.6, in 2015. However, since there is great variation in both real estate prices and family earnings in a regional comparison within Hungary, the affordability of real estate varies greatly among different income deciles, meaning that poorer families are not significantly better off since 2008. We must note that there is still a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions in effect, and therefore a considerable amount of supply remains hidden from the market. In conclusion, there are no signs of bubbles within the real estate sector, while underlying weaknesses may fade.

Poland: Real estate prices (primary market, average price per square meter in the seven biggest cities in Poland) dropped by roughly 12% between 2008 and 2014 and the first half of this year marked only a slight increase (1.5%), meaning that real estate prices remain visibly below the pre-crisis peak. At the same time, the average monthly wage (gross, in nominal terms) increased by more than one-third and was sufficient to buy 0.65m² in 2014 as opposed to 2008, when one could buy only 0.43m² for the average monthly wage. Despite the policy rate being at the historically low level of 1.5%,moderate growth of credit and high enough supply on the real estate market reduce the risk of a real estate bubble at this point.

Romania: The latest data from Eurostat shows that, after six consecutive years of decline, real estate prices began to rise this year (+3.8% y/y in 1H15), stimulated by continually growing wages and the increasingly cheaper RON mortgage loans offered by local banks. Although still hovering slightly below the long-term average, the EC index gauging households’ propensity towards buying/building a new home over the next 12 months continued to recover in 3Q15, as did building permits in the first nine months of 2015. However, one plausible argument for the lack of any steep price increase, especially in the case of multi-family starts, is that the supply seems to be tapering off, as the semi-finished stock of flats has dried up. Future owners, especially those opting to live in multi-family homes, now first have to make a down payment and then wait for the contractor to finish the project.

Slovakia: After annual decreases for six consecutive years (2009-14), real estate prices in Slovakia have been on an upward trend this year. The average real estate price increased by 1.2% y/y in 3Q15, accelerating from annual increases of 0.4% and 0.8% in the first two quarters, respectively. The current average price thus stands at EUR 1229/m2. Nevertheless, real estate prices are still far from their pre-crisis levels, at only 81% of the 2008 value of EUR 1511/m2 on average. There is therefore no risk of a housing price bubble, based on recent developments. In the near future, we expect only a mild increase in average real estate prices.

Slovenia: Despite revived growth momentum, we are not seeing clear signs that lending activity, including mortgage loans, has managed to catch up with such a trend. Recent data still points to subdued activity, as housing loans are exhibiting a mild positive trend, with the growth pace gradually declining from the double-digit rates seen in 2008 to the current average of a 3% increase (YTD). Nevertheless, while looking at the price to income ratio, Slovenia improved from 15.2% in 2009 to 10.3% in 1H15, thus positioning Slovenia ahead of Croatia and Romania, but below the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Although we are currently seeing favorable developments in the real estate sector, we do not expect to see any stronger rise in real estate prices in the near term, while the House Price Index is still following a generally downward trend, i.e. standing at 87 points in 2H15 vs. the 2008 peak of 112.

Serbia: According to National Mortgage Insurance Corporation data, the Serbian real estate market showed some resistance during the crisis, as the prices of sold apartments quickly recovered in 2010 (reaching a maximum of EUR 1000 per sqm), after a milder fall in 2009. Average prices were moving around EUR 900 per sqm from 2010 to 2013, after which they started to gradually decline, reaching EUR 848 per sqm in 1Q15. However, the Serbian real estate market is relatively specific, as we can see diverging trends in Belgrade and the rest of Serbia. Prices in Belgrade reflect the crisis effect, as they reached a peak around EUR 1500 per sqm in 2Q08 and have fallen continuously since then, reaching EUR 1109 per sqm in 1Q15, while on the other hand prices in the rest of Serbia have moved around EUR 600 per sqm, with no notable effects during the crisis and two recessions.

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