The European mortgage and housing finance sectors face three key challenges.
Firstly, from an environmental standpoint, European residential dwellings must adapt to rapidly changing climate conditions and comply with new building energy performance requirements, to contribute towards meeting the EU’s climate goals. The environmental standpoint is elaborated further in two articles in Hypostat 2023. Secondly, the demographic changes in Europe, which depict different dynamics in different regions and cities. This leads to heterogenous challenges with some areas facing demographic expansion and house price increases whilst others witness people leaving and house prices falling. Lastly, rising financing costs, driven by central banks’ efforts to counter rising inflationary pressure, puts pressure on the affordability of housing and impacts transactions.
On average, the total number of building permits
issued decreased by 6.5% in the EU27, for a total amount of 1.67 mn permits, after a significant increase in 2021 of 11.2%. Over the last 10-year period (2013-2022), the number of building permits issued in the EU overall grew by almost 40%.
The average, unweighted EU27 house price index
grew further by 11.3% in 2022, after a 11.1% increase in 2021, continuing a trend that began in 2013. However, this trend stopped in several countries starting from 2022.
In 2022, the total volume of outstanding mortgage loans in the EU27 reached EUR 6.7 tn, a 3.6% y-o-y increase. Adding the UK, Norway and Iceland to the EU stock, the figure reached EUR 8.9 tn outstanding, a new all-time high. The European mortgage market is dominated by a handful of countries: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK, which considered altogether, represent more than 75% of the outstanding mortgage market of the EU27 and UK combined.
The development of average European interest rates on mortgages interrupted the downward trend which had been observed since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. At the end of 2022, average unweighted EU27 interest rates on mortgages stood at 3.11%, an increase of 1.09 pps compared to 2021. The preference for fixed or floating mortgages varies across the EU27, in the absence of a common tradition in terms of lending or borrowing and as a result of differences in national credit frameworks.