1,400 SEB customers request payment holiday during first month of crisis ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

SEB and LHV headquarters in Tallinn.
SEB and LHV headquarters in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

More than 1,000 people have asked SEB for loan relief during the first month of the emergency situation. The bank thinks most people's financial circumstances have remained relatively good up until now.

In total, 1,400 people have requested loan relief, ERR's news in Estonian reported on Monday.

SEB Board member Ainar Leppänen said: "1,400 payment holidays in the first month of the emergency shows that the financial health of our private customers has been good so far and the need for payment holidays has not been huge."

Payment leave is a usual agreement and was not created especially for the crisis. When temporary payment difficulties arise customers can ask to suspend payments for a period of time. Customers should not be ashamed to ask, Leppänen said.

Home loan payment leave is usually issued for six months and can be extended for a total of one year, if necessary.

Conditions to obtain a loan could be tightened in the future

The retail banking executives of several large commercial banks have told ERR the economic behavior of private customers has become more conservative over the past month.

"There has been a clear change in customer behavior. In the case of private individuals, the demand for loans has fallen approximately 50 percent compared before the crisis. Maybe it has fallen even more in leasing. They [customers] are a little more conservative there," Leppänen said.

"And it seems that, at the moment, people's focus is on savings and how best to deal with emergencies and crises. And that's certainly the right thing to do."

SEB has not reviewed loan term agreements. What kind of collateral an individual needs for a loan depends not only on income but also on the real estate market.

Tarmo Ulla, Head of Retail Banking at Swedbank, said he has not yet seen a big decline in retail loan applications.

"People have become more rational and they are giving more consideration to different purchase decisions. The volume of loan applications is stable, although it is not showing any upward trend," Ulla explained.

"Today, we issue loans in the same way as we have done previously, and we have not changed the basic principles of financing. So what do we do? We pay increased attention to income sustainability. The loan we offer must also be affordable."

Kadri Kiisel, Head of Retail Banking at LHV Bank, pointed out the conservatism of private customers has created a special situation in the first few weeks. So far, the market has stabilized slightly.

"This decline is smaller in the case of small loans. Since the amounts are smaller and by their nature they are also consumer loans, unfortunately there is always this effect later.

"In this situation, more time needs to be put back into the consulting process. In order to better understand the customer 's needs, to better understand their situation," said Kiisel.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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