Over the past year, Russians have become a third more interested in buying housing in the secondary market. This is stated in the study of the Avito Real Estate service.

According to analysts, from April to June 2023, the demand for secondary housing in Russia increased by an average of 36% compared to the same period in 2022. In particular, the demand for one-bedroom apartments in this segment increased by 40%, two-bedroom apartments - by 39%, studios - by 35%, three-bedroom apartments - by 30%, and apartments with four rooms or more - by 18%.

"In annual terms, the demand (for secondary housing. - RT) has grown twice as much as the supply ... Recently, the interest of buyers has shifted from new buildings to the secondary housing due to more affordable prices, "explained Sergey Khakhulin, head of secondary and suburban real estate of the company.

According to the Federal Statistics Service, in just a few years, the difference between the cost of housing in the primary and secondary markets in Russia has more than quadrupled - from 9 to 40%. So, if at the end of 2019 a square meter of housing in an object under construction was sold on average in the country for 64 thousand rubles, and in finished houses - for about 59 thousand rubles, then by April 2023 the values increased to 127 thousand and 91 thousand rubles, respectively.

Moreover, in some regions, the price gap today reaches 50%. One of the reasons for the observed imbalance was the long-term operation of the program of preferential mortgages for new buildings, according to experts of the Central Bank.

"The state mortgage program for subsidizing the loan rate, launched in 2020 as an anti-crisis measure, at the beginning of the action had a positive effect on the availability of primary housing purchased with a mortgage. But by 2021, against the backdrop of rising prices, outstripping the growth of nominal incomes of the population, the effect of improving financial lending conditions was exhausted," the Central Bank explained.

As a result, the availability of apartments in new buildings decreased, and, consequently, the interest of citizens in buying such housing began to weaken. Against this background, starting in the spring of 2022, Russian developers and banks began to actively develop various risky mortgage lending practices to stimulate demand. We are talking, for example, about issuing loans at near-zero rates with a concomitant overestimation of the cost of apartments. This, in turn, led to an even greater rise in the cost of housing under construction, the Central Bank added.

To stabilize the situation on the market, the regulator has already taken a number of measures that have reduced the scale of the use of such practices by banks. However, credit institutions, together with developers, have already begun to use other methods to stimulate demand for new buildings.

"There are new proposals from banks to reduce mortgage rates due to a one-time payment from the borrower when obtaining a loan. The Bank of Russia assesses the feasibility of restricting such schemes," the Central Bank said.

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At the same time, one of the main tools to protect the real estate market from overheating should be the curtailment of preferential mortgages, the Central Bank is sure. According to the regulator, such subsidized programs should cease to be widespread and become more targeted.

"Broad programs of preferential housing lending are a very effective mechanism in a crisis, but it should be temporary, because then the effects, primarily on the price and, accordingly, the affordability of housing, can become negative ... It is necessary to gradually develop targeted programs after the completion of the mass program of concessional lending in order to really increase the affordability of housing, to develop more targeted programs. (For example. - RT) we already have a family mortgage and the Far East, "said Elvira Nabiullina, head of the Central Bank, on June 9.

Smooth failure

The need to curtail preferential mortgages was previously stated by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, as the head of state emphasized, the authorities will "do it smoothly."

Recall that within the framework of preferential mortgages today, all residents of the country have the opportunity to apply for a loan for the purchase of real estate at 8% per annum. For comparison: the market rate on average in the country now exceeds 11%, as evidenced by the materials of the company "DOM.RF".

You can use the terms of the program until July 1, 2024. After that, the country's leadership will probably not extend the initiative and will keep it only for privileged categories of citizens, which will help reduce the price gap in the real estate market. This opinion was shared with RT by the vice-president of the Russian Guild of Realtors Konstantin Aprelev.

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"The equalization of prices will also occur due to the reduction of mortgage risks. From July 1 of this year, the minimum amount of the initial contribution will be increased in Russia. In addition, the Central Bank continues to struggle with near-zero rate programs from developers in order to cover up one of the schemes for artificially inflating the cost of housing. Therefore, over time, the imbalance of the market will come to naught. Prices for secondary housing and new buildings of similar characteristics should be the same, "Aprelev emphasized.

As Artem Deev, head of the analytical department at AMarkets, suggested in a conversation with RT, the gradual completion of the preferential mortgage program and the curtailment of various credit schemes may lead to a slight decrease in developers' profits. Nevertheless, the specialist does not see serious risks for the construction industry in the foreseeable future.

"Developers, of course, are unlikely to like it, but it is worth noting that during the pandemic, this industry suffered the least. Stronger than construction, the state supported only the oil and gas sector. So the industry will survive in any case," Deev concluded.