RISKS lurking in the Cyprus property market are forcing domestic banks to take stricter borrowing measures to limit their exposure. The measures include increased collateral, fewer grace periods and changes in loan payment terms.
The banks already screen property investors, developers and non-Cypriots who want to invest in Cyprus. But things are now much tighter for investments in the seaside towns; particularly in Paphos, where the market is experiencing a higher than average slowdown.
Bank and Coop officials have directed their branches to follow the Central Bank’s instructions and impose the stricter measures, which include:
- A more thorough investigation of someone’s ability to repay a loan.
- Increased levels of security offered on the applicant’s behalf.
- A more in-depth examination, according to the type of loan. (If it is about a property loan, the bank must examine the value of the property, its location and whether or not it is in a tourist area).
- Tougher lending terms for foreign investors with higher interest rate margins to cover additional risks.
- Stricter evaluation of company ratings.
Some of the banks are also considering introducing even stricter terms of borrowing for:
- Client contributions.
- Grace periods.
- Loan repayment periods.
- Loan pricing.
High ranking bank officials admit that consumers are more hesitant in borrowing due to fears of a deterioration of the economic climate.
“Citizens think twice before making any investment due to the economic crisis. Some expect that property prices will be corrected and will find their real prices“, it was reported.
Moreover, the demand by non-Cypriots for housing loans is almost inexistent.
The lower demand for loans is not yet reflected in the Central Bank’s figures, which show that the loan portfolios grew by 35% in July; their second highest level ever.