ABN AMRO: growth rate for home sales to slow and house prices to increase

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Modern houses in the Netherlands

ABN AMRO’s Group Economics department predicts that the numbers of homes sold during the coming years will climb more slowly than in 2015. For 2016, the bank’s economists predict a 5 per cent increase in sales, followed by a 2.5 per cent increase in 2017. According to their calculations, homes sales increased by 15 per cent in 2015.

Philip Bokeloh of Group Economics explains, ‘Ever since 2009 when the recession hit, fewer home sales were recorded each year than in the preceding period. In total, this translates as 400,000 fewer homes sold over the past six years. Now the market is recovering, and many people who chose to avoid the housing market during that time are now buying homes. We do not expect that the entire shortfall will be eliminated: some homeowners, those with residual debts, are reluctant to relocate. However, if the economy remains favourable, a portion of those 400,000 homes will definitely be sold.’

House prices to increase by the same rate as in 2015

Group Economics expects that house prices will rise by 3 per cent in 2016, which it projects is the same as the rate for last year. In 2015, house prices rose by an estimated 3 per cent. House prices will continue to rise in 2017. However, with interest rates set to climb marginally, the bank’s economists foresee that the increase will fall short of the current growth rate: Group Economics predicts a 2 per cent price increase for next year.

Lower NHG ceiling

In 2015, more than half the homes bought carried the National Mortgage Guarantee (Nationale Hypotheek Garantie, ‘NHG’). This proportion is significantly lower than in 2013, when three quarters of new mortgages were taken out under the NHG scheme. Group Economics believes that the number will decline further after 1 July 2016, when the NHG ceiling will be lowered again (to a maximum of 225,000 euros). However, as Bokeloh comments, ‘From 2017 forward, the NHG ceiling will be linked to the average purchase price, which at present is 236,000 euros. This means that the ceiling will need to be raised again in 2017. To avoid upsetting the housing market, market operators believe that it will be better to forego the scheduled cut in 2016.’

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