What mortgage should I get with a negative Euribor?
The Euribor has reached zero and continues its downward path, an unusual scenario which causes troubles to banks in an inauspicious time for retail businesses. The variable rate mortgage, with a calculation formula stipulated by adding a spread to Euribor, will experience a surprise in the coming months: the applicable Euribor may have a minus sign in front of it.
What effect would this have on fees? A charge for being mortgaged, a reduction in the monthly payment or no effect at all? If the absolute value of Frozen Euribor overtakes the differential one, the applicable interest rate would be negative, implying getting money for having borrowed, according to the opinion of some. After all, there are banks that pay other financial entities to lend money, and this paradox makes the Euribor and other market interest rates very cold. But the banks have already made clear that to “pay for borrowing” is “contradictory” and that, in any case, the courts are the ones to decide.
Although it might happen that financial institutions have to pay the mortgagor, only a few customers could experience the happiness of actually receiving money. Customers who took Deutsche Bank mortgages, to a spread of 0.17%, or Bankinter, with its extinct Euribor offer of +0.18%, are the type of borrower who might experience the effect of negative rates. Those with ordinary mortgages may opt for a reduced share, with interest below the agreed differential. The effect would be invalid if the writing of a mortgage establishes a floor clause, which immunizes the monthly fee from negative rates. In these cases, consulting a lawyer to analyze if a lawsuit against the bank is viable is a good thing to do.
What if I’m thinking about asking for a mortgage?
The yield curve that benefits many mortgagors may hurt new applicants. 2016 is going to be the year of real estate, but it is going to takeoff gradually. Banks want to attract creditworthy customers and compete in the mortgage market, but this effect may be mitigated if the negative rates scenario continues.
In the first place, the reduction of spreads has stopped, according to data handled by the financial portal iAhorro.com, Euribor + 1 was the one to beat this year, but banks have frozen the lower rate offers. It is not plausible to see lower spread mortgages until the Euribor value rises again, even if only slightly. This is a bad panorama for those who had planned to finance their home when mortgages were cheaper.
In addition, to wait for a rebirth of floor clauses is not unreasonable. The floor clauses are not illegal; what does not comply with the rules is to hide its effects on the calculation of the monthly installments from clients. A “zero clause” agreement has been established which means that the mortgage interest will never descend below zero. It could be only a matter of time before some banks take the leap to provide limitations on the descent of moderate interest rates, not much above 1%.
Banco Santander has innovated and may set a trend: it states that the rate is fixed for the first two years, namely 1.75% nominal. Two years is not a term that seeks to benefit the customer who pays fixed fees, but to protect the bank from a negative Euribor during this time.
But not everything is bad news for those who want to get a mortgage this year: there are several banks offering mortgages with fixed or mixed stable rates below 3% or even 2% depending on the bank and the client. 1.75% for two years is a bad choice; but a safe 2% for ten or more years is an option to take into account. In the mortgage North Pole, those who know how to wrap up with the training and information coat, will arrive safely at their destination: just paying a fair amount for the money borrowed.
N.B. This article is for information only and should not be treated as financial advice.