ECONOMY

High-rise interest rates

Greece has the second most expensive mortgage and consumer loans in the eurozone, according to data recently published by the European Central Bank (ECB). Following ECB’s raising of its key lending rate by 25 basis points to 3.25 percent earlier this month, Greek banks responded with selective lending rate hikes, mostly in the same measure as ECB for floating rate mortgage loans. Independently of the ECB hike, Alpha Bank followed its larger rival, National, with a 0.20 percent cut in its fixed-rate mortgage loan for five years, which now stands at 4.75 percent. Alpha’s basic lending and consumer loan rates have also gone up by 0.25 percent. Most other banks left their fixed mortgage loan rates unchanged. Whether linked with ECB’s basic rate or euribor, most banks’ floating rate mortgage loans now vary between 4.80 and 5.50 percent. There are, however, isolated offers of around 4.20 percent from banks following an aggressive marketing policy. A basic rule for borrowers to remember is that a favorable rate is linked with the size of the loan, its relation to the commercial value of the property item and the borrower’s relationship with the bank (the amount of other business with it). The pricing war among banks is not exhausted on the interest rate front but has been extended to the extras of mortgage loan, such as fees for attorneys and engineers amounting to about 1,000. The trend now is to waive them. The response to the ECB hike was also varied as regards corporate and business loans. Eurobank raised them by the full 0.25 percent, whereas Piraeus Bank left its basic lending and long-term corporate rates unchanged at between 7.15 percent and 7.65 percent.