Recent market development
Housing Finland and CEE
Consumer confidence in Finland during the period was strong, which was reflected in good consumer demand for apartments. Supply was on a high level. In addition to the good demand for affordable apartments in Helsinki Metropolitan Area and Tampere, demand for larger apartments improved year-on-year.
The demand of private residential investors started to decline during the year.
In the CEE countries, consumer confidence continued to be on a good level especially in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. 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. Shortage of resources due to increased construction volume caused cost pressure during the reporting period in the entire area of operation.
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, but the public discussion regarding the excessive indebtedness has caused uncertainty. During the period, it became obvious that the banks tightened their lending.
Despite the improving economy, Russian consumers continued to be cautious with their apartment buying decisions. Consumer confidence remained on a low level. Residential demand remained on the stable level of end of 2017. Residential price level was stable or slightly declining due to the supply peak preceding the changes in housing sale legislation coming in the summer.
The Russian Central Bank raised its key rate in September. The interest rates for mortgages for new apartments stayed under 10 per cent. The Central Bank’s recent raise of the key rate is expected to raise the mortgage rates moderately. The Russian government continues to further support 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. Tenant demand is on a good level 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 good. 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 and industrial investments ongoing or planned in both countries.
In Finland, the growth of infrastructure construction has started to decline following the decrease in construction project start-ups especially during the latter part of the review period. In the state’s budget estimate the investments in infrastructure will be decreased by EUR 500 million compared to current year. 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. The paving high season takes place from June to October.
In Finland, the state investments declined slightly year-on-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, and the residential investor interest remained stable. 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.