The negative intereste rate’s effect on the real estate market and its participents

University essay from KTH/Fastigheter och byggande; KTH/Fastigheter och byggande

Abstract:

When the Riksbank took the historic decision to cut the repo rate below zero, forecast at the same time was that it would be back on positive ground by the end of 2016. Now that the repo rate is adjusted down further Riksbank predicts that interest rates will remain negative until at least the turn of the year 2017-2018. The phenomenon of "negative interest rate" has thus become more than just the short paranthesis as it was initially meant to be. The purpose of this paper is therefore to examine how the low interest rates in general, and the negative interest rate in particular, affects the real estate market and its participants. Furthermore, it is investigated whether some participants relate to the negative interest rate differently than others, and if their expectations of the interest rate and the market's future development are different. The negative interest rate is a highly topical and new phenomenon and this kind of study has not been done before.

The work is mainly built on qualitative interviews founded on a phenomenographical research approach, which aims to, based on an expert but heterogeneous respondent group, try to draw general conclusions on the basis of the answers received. Representatives from real estate funds, listed real estate companies, institutional real estate company, KTH, a real estate consultant and a bank were interviewed, in order to highlight the phenomenon from as many perspectives as possible. Quantitative surveys are also used to enhance reliability of the essay and its internal validity.

The obtained empirical data shows that the only direct effect that the negative interest rates has is that the companies using leverage get a "mismatch" when they tie their interest rates with interest rate swaps- This is due to the STIBOR-floor that banks have put in place, which basically means they get higher interest costs, the more negative the interest rate is. Further, listed property companies are considered to be the investor category that has benefited most from low interest rate environment, this because of their relatively high leverage ratios, but also as they have effectively been able to use the capital market as an alternative source of funding.

The low interest rates have meant that property values have risen rapidly, but all increases are not considered as justified. As for the respondents’ approach towards the market, it can be stated that the listed real estate companies have begun to position themselves for a possible touchdown on the market while the unleveraged institutional investors, continued to seek higher real estate exposure. In terms of the respondents’ future expectation about interest rate developments, it is clear from the response that the majority expect that low interest rates may be for a while but should then return to more normal levels, while the other two believed that the low interest rates instead may become the new normal.

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