Recent market development
Housing Finland and CEE
Consumer confidence in Finland during the beginning of the year was strong, which was reflected in good consumer demand for apartments. Supply was on a high level; nevertheless there were no signs of overheating. In addition to the good demand for affordable apartments in growth centres, demand for larger apartments improved.
Residential investor demand focused in particular in the Helsinki metropolitan area, Turku and Tampere.
In the CEE countries, in particular in the Czech Republic, consumer confidence continued to be strong. Demand for apartments in the CEE countries was mainly brisk.
Prices of new apartments were on average stable both in Finland and in the CEE countries, and shortage of resources due to increased construction volume caused cost pressure during the reporting period.
Mortgage interest rates were on a low level in all countries of operation, and the availability of financing was good. In Finland, new mortgages continued to be actively drawn.
Despite the improving economy, Russian consumers continued to be cautious with their apartment buying decisions. Consumer confidence remained stable on a low level. Residential demand remained on the level of end of 2017, although it improved slightly especially in the Moscow region. Residential price level was stable or slightly declining due to the supply peak preceding the changes in housing sale legislation coming in the summer.
During January-March, the Russian Central Bank lowered its key rate a couple of times. The interest rates for mortgages for new apartments stayed under 10 per cent. The Russian government continues to further the citizens’ apartment-buying among other things with the interest support program for families with children launched in the beginning of the year.
The favourable market climate in Finland supported public and private investments. The volume of construction continued to be on a high level. The business premises contracting market continued to be active in growth centres in Finland and especially in the Helsinki metropolitan area that is also the main market of investor demand. The rental levels of business premises remained on a good level in Finland and in the Baltic countries.
In the Baltic countries and in Slovakia, investor demand for business premises was strong. The contracting market has remained stable in the Baltic countries.
Urbanisation, industrial investments and investments in energy and traffic infrastructure kept the demand for complex infrastructure construction on a good level. Especially in Sweden and Norway, the market remained strong, and there are several major infra projects ongoing or planned in both countries. In Finland, construction was supported by major infrastructure construction projects in urban growth centres and the overall construction market growth. In the Baltic countries, the market has continued to grow.
Because of weather conditions, paving is practically non-existent in YIT’s area of operation during the first quarter of the year.
In Finland, the state investments declined slightly from the level of the previous year. In Sweden, the market was solid, and in Norway the state investments increased. In Denmark, price competition remained intense.
Investors’ interest in business premises located in Finland’s major growth centres was at a good level. The yield requirements of office and retail properties decreased in the Helsinki metropolitan area, and the rental levels for prime office properties increased in central Helsinki.