Banks recommend customers think before fixing mortgage rates

Dark skies over Tallinn's city center.
Dark skies over Tallinn's city center. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Interest in fixed-rate mortgages is rising in Estonia as the Euribor rate rises, pushing up loan repayments. But banks are urging customers to consider the risks before doing so.

LHV bank told Monday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) more and more people want to discuss fixed-rate mortgages.

"When the Euribor turned positive, more and more customers started asking about the possibilities of fixing interest rates. But not as soon as the Euribor became positive, but when these rates were higher," said Catlin Vatsel, the bank's head of private finance.

SEB's head of private banking Sille Hallang said interest has risen and fallen throughout the year.

"Interest in interest rate-fixing was higher during the first half of this year when it was expected the Euribor rate would turn positive. In the second half of the year, this interest has fallen," she said.

But agreements are not always reached.

Apartment buildings in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Banks can add up to 1 percent on fixed-rate mortgages compared to a non-fixed agreement. Additionally, fixed-rate monthly repayments are generally higher and many people prefer a lower rate.

However, homeowners who fixed their rate in the spring currently have lower repayments than customers without.

"There are quite a few customers who have a better fixed-rate today, that is true," SEB's Hallang said.

AK said it may be reasonable to get a fixed-rate mortgage now as it is assumed the European Central Bank will continue to raise Euribor's rates and it will stay high for the foreseeable future.

But it is also not known what will happen in the coming months.

Apartment buildings in a new development in Tallinn. Photo is illustrative. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The rate may even fall, Anne Pärgma, head of Housing Loans at Swedbank, told AK.

"You should be ready for the Euribor to reach somewhere around 3.5 [percent] next summer. At the end of next year, however, it could be somewhere around 3 [percent], or a little lower. If people are fixing for the long term, they need to be prepared to pay more in the long term," she said.

Banks do not advertise fixed-rate mortgages separately and customers will need to ask about them.

If customers plan to see the property in the near future, banks do not recommend fixing the mortgage because terminating a contract creates significant additional fees, AK reported.

The Euribor, while previously negative, rose to 2.1 percent in June and hit 3.2 percent at the end of September.

The European Central Bank has said it will raise interest rates until Eurozone inflation falls.


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Editor: Marko Tooming, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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