Uncertain Times: How Does it Affect my Home Buying Journey?

These are confusing and disturbing times. Please allow us to give you some perspective on the situation and the impact on the economy in general and mortgage rates in particular.
Published on Mar 2, 2022
Uncertain Times: How Does it Affect my Home Buying Journey?

Category Hypofriend News

Written by Dr. Christian Mulder

Published on

Inflation is rearing its head. Banks are tightening loan conditions. We are also in particular worried if not shocked by the developments of the last week in Ukraine. Apart from the fact that we of course ask ourselves as humans how we can help, we have also thought about what it means for you from a customer perspective. So we have summarised our thoughts on the situation. What is the impact, especially on housing and interest rates? Is it even advisable to continue pursuing our dream of owning a home at the moment? Please allow us to give you some perspective:

Impact on mortgage interest rates

You have seen quite significant jumps in rates since the end of last year. The main reason is that inflation has increased well beyond what market participants had been expecting. Serious observers like Larry Summers (former United States Secretary of the Treasury) agree that the central banks are behind the curve, and will eventually have to raise rates. The bond market is anticipating this and rates are therefore already increasing.

Banks are nervous

Banks operating in Germany have received clear signals from the regulator BaFin to be more selective in extending real estate loans, and as a result banks have increased the margins that they charge over the interest rates observed in the bond market. Some banks are overreacting in our view, tightening conditions beyond the reasonable, and it may take some time for them to resort to more normal business practices.

War and crisis in our immediate neighborhood

We now have a war on the EU's doorstep. When Corona arrived we told our customers to keep a cool head, that prices would not go down. Now again, we would advise the same: No matter how much the war may frighten and disturb us personally, there is no fundamental change in the housing market. We saw a short-term dip in interest rates, as money looks for a safe haven, but since then interest rates have kept increasing.

Addition March 14: Now almost 2 weeks later we see interest rates shooting back up. The Ukraine war has led to high oil, gas and grain prices over this period. This is leading to higher inflation and firmer actions by central banks to raise interest rates.

Effects of the boycott of Russian oil

We are seeing interest rates that keep increasing. They have breached levels we were not expecting for this year. Why is that? The main reason is the oil boycott of Russia. We had not foreseen this. This boycott is leading to oil prices that are double the prices of last year. This alone has an impact of 3 % of world GDP and much more in prices. On top of that natural gas prices have tripled.

The big fear in the markets is that this inflation impulse leads to higher wages and then gets imbedded in the economy. The only way to turn that around is higher interest rates, causing a (mild) recession, some unemployment, less oil use, lower energy prices.

The impact on the housing market is likely to be that prices will stop increasing. The market has been quite out of balance with minimal supply, and double-digit increases. This will normalize. We will see much more normal supply, flat prices, and again the ability for some bargains, and fewer excessive prices. We doubt if prices will decline, as the momentum was so strong and supply so tight. But this depends on interest rates. There is scope for the benchmark rates to increase to around 2% in the near future, implying mortgage rates in the rates of 3-4,5%. This will definitely dampen demand. For now the key indicator to watch is the oil price, and then inflation.

We trust this provides you some background to the bank behaviour you see and interest offers you may receive.

Do not hesitate to reach out to us to talk about your personal options or current questions.