Banks expect interest rates to continue rising

Euro coins and bills.
Euro coins and bills. Source: Anna Pavlenko/Raadio 4

Interest rates are expected to continue rising this year after the European Central Bank (ECB) put its rates up on Thursday, the second time in two months. This will significantly push up home loan and car lease payments in the coming months.

The ECB is aiming to cool the Eurozone's economy from the current average inflation rate of 9.9 percent to 2 percent. Estonia's inflation rate is almost 25 percent.

SEB private banking strategist Peeter Koppel said the ECB's tone is now more modest, Thursday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

"If things still go badly in Germany, these interest rates won't go up so much," said Koppel.

The rise has also led to an increase in the Euribor rate, and Koppel said it could grow to 3 percent.

"But I wouldn't rule out a little bit higher, because if we look at inflation now, actually, in order to contain inflation, you clearly need much higher interest rates from the central bank," he said.

Some analysts believe inflation will fall rapidly, but Koppel does not share this optimism.

"History tells us that once inflation has gone above five [percent], getting back to two [percent] can take a long time," he said. "We could still be talking about inflation above 2 percent in, say, 10 years."

For private consumers, there may be a rapid increase in home loan or car lease payments as they are linked to the six-month Euribor.

Anne Pärgma, head of housing loans at Swedbank, said this will not immediately be reflected in new agreements, but it will be included when the rate changes.

The number of loan applications and real estate transactions has already started to decrease.

"Around 700 applications are submitted every week. Compared to the beginning of the year, there were around 1,000 — 900 to 1,000. It's been around 700 for a while now. There are more transactions than usual where the sale price is slightly below the agreed market price," she said.

Martin Vahter, CEO of 1Partner Kinnisvara, said the number of transactions has fallen by 20-25 percent. If this continues for a long time, prices will also start to fall, he told AK, but they have not done so yet.

"I believe that this decrease, if any, will be a maximum of 10 percent. If we recall 2008, the real estate price drop was still 25 percent in one year and another 25 percent in the second year. Such a scenario is definitely not expected," he said.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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