Mortgage rates are still low, but less accessible

While the American central bank has prepared people’s minds for a rise in interest rates, in Europe the subject is still not topical, despite the rise in inflation. As a result, mortgage rates remain at an incredibly low level. « It is true that, today and in view of the inflation figures (more than 2%), the rates should already have gone up », admits Maël Bernier, director of communication and spokesperson for the broker Meilleurtaux.

On the contrary, for the month of January, « the first scales received are generally stable or very slightly down. We thus note averages of around 1.25% over 25 years, around 1.05% over 20 years and 0.93% over 15 years, i.e. rather lower than in December, with the very good records remaining below 1% », she adds.

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Three out of six banks have decided to maintain their rates, we observe at Pretto, another credit broker. According to its first estimates for January 2022, the average rates are 0.88% over 15 years, 1.01% over 20 years and 1.19% over 25 years.

« The month of January therefore announces that the banks, in line with December 2021, wish to attract borrowers thanks to very favorable rates and achieve the ambitious objectives set for this year. », we explain at Empruntis.

Increase in effort

However, this idyllic landscape for the borrower should not hide a certain tightening of access to credit. The constraints imposed by the High Council for Financial Stability (HCSF) are felt. At Artémis brokerage, the average duration of loans increased by four months (six months for first-time buyers). This extension makes it possible both to absorb the consequences of the rise in property prices and to contain the effort ratio (or indebtedness) below the 35% threshold.

At Cafpi, the average loan reached 240,600 euros in November against 238,700 euros in November for first-time buyers. As for other applicants, the average amount borrowed is up very sharply, with 421,800 euros against 389,700 euros in November. « This significant increase naturally leads to an increase in the effort required, which goes from 6.77 years of income in November to 7.16 years in December. », notes the broker.

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Another trend: the increase in real estate prices still affects the banks « to remain attentive to the risk for each credit application file », warns Cécile Roquelaure, director of studies at Empruntis. A stiffening of the banks that all brokers are seeing.

« A mortgage file, especially if it is badly presented, can very quickly, in any case more easily than a few months ago, be refused », we observe at Meilleurtaux. « Obtaining a loan without contribution has become almost impossible », insists Ludovic Huzieux, co-founder of Artémis brokerage. He advises borrowers to demonstrate their ability to save regularly. They must also beware of the jump in charges which represents the difference between the rent they pay and their future monthly loan payment. « If the first is lower than the second, the gap must be filled by savings », Judge Ludovic Huzieux.

Housing prices

For the rest of the year, there is « no major risk on loans to individuals », believes Maël Barnier. « OATs [obligations assimilables du Trésor] are up very slightly and are approaching 0.30%, but this is still a very low level ; moreover, the European Central Bank maintains its policy of very low interest rates and without any change in doctrine on its part », she notes.

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More than interest rates, it is the rise in prices that will determine the ability of the French to invest in real estate. « Housing prices will be a major subject of the year, marked by the presidential election: prices in old properties, but also construction prices up sharply, and the constant pressure of the energy component on household budgets ( energy bills, energy renovation) », anticipates Pierre Chapon, president of Pretto. On this side, no drop in sight.

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