Mortgage loans increased both in number and in total value in 2018, the Belgian financial sector federation, FEBELFIN, reported on Wednesday, citing data from the Professional Credit Union (UPC). About 253,000 mortgage-loan contracts were concluded in 2018, an increase of just over 4% on the previous year. These loans totalled 34 billion euros – refinancing excluded -, an increase of 9% compared to 2017.
Lending increased in particular in the second half of the year, due mainly to the increase in the number of loans for home purchases, FEBELFIN said.
Compared to 2017, there were significant increases in the number of housing-related loans: loans for home-purchases increased by 7% (+9,119), for construction by 3.2% (+ 1,048), for the home-purchase and home-improvement by 7.7% (+693) and for other purposes by 9.7% (+1,609).
On the other hand, as in 2017, loans for home-improvement went down – by 2,386 (-4.4%).
The number of loan applications was just over 6% more in 2018 than in the preceding year, while the total amount requested was 9% higher than in 2017.
“The demand for home loans went up considerably in the second semester of the year, due in particular to the reform of registration fees in Flanders,” UPC Secretary-General Ivo Van Buick explained. “Coupled with the still low interest rates and the increased demand for financing for investment property, this growth fuelled credit applications and actual loans in 2018.”
“Responsible lending” has to be lenders’ top priority, according to Febelfin. “Unhealthy growth in this market could have consequences for the stability of our country’s financial system,” it noted. “The National Bank of Belgium has also insisted often on this risk during the past year and has taken measures to guarantee responsible lending.”
Where external refinancing is concerned, a new drop of almost 18% was registered in 2018. Still, more than 26,000 external refinancing loans were issued for a total amount of 3.3 billion euros.