Article

Housing Finance of Austrian Households

Monetary Policy & the Economy 01/2009;
Source: RePEc

ABSTRACT This study presents a first summary of the housing finance results of the OeNB’s Household Survey on Housing Wealth in Austria. 22% of Austrian households have taken out debt to finance housing. The probability of holding such debt is significantly higher for younger and higher- income households than for others. High-income households are much more likely to have a variable rate loan or a foreign currency loan, but at the same time they also have lower loanto- value (LTV) ratios than the other groups. Regional differences – or more specifically, a west-east pattern – were identified regarding the type and amount of debt incurred: Austrian households in the western provinces tend to have higher debt and higher LTV ratios than those in the eastern provinces. Housing assistance funds and alternative forms of financing, such as inheritances or inter vivos gifts (money), play quite a significant role in housing finance. Austrian households use their property mainly for residential purposes rather than as an investment instrument: Of the households with outstanding housing loans, 74% used (at least part of) the money to purchase their primary residence, 12% used it to finance the deposit they had to make for their housing association apartment, and 17% purchased a second home. 52% of the households that took out a loan to purchase a second property use it for residential or similar purposes, while 26% of them offer it for rent and the remaining households (roughly one-quarter) use it as a store of value. These facts and the existence of a strongly subsidized rental market seem to have contributed to the rather low ownership ratio and the moderate development of Austrian real estate and rental prices by international standards. The differences identified in the structure of housing finance of Austrian households suggest that the impact of monetary policy on wealth (and hence on household consumption and investment) will also differ markedly. JEL classification: D14, D31, R21, R31, E52

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