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E-commerce, banks slowing down deals, real estate agent group says

The Finnish Estate Agent Association has criticised banks for month-long delays in making mortgage decisions.

File photo of real estate agent Antti Kainulainen (left) presenting a property to a prospective buyer in Katajanokka, Helsinki. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Members of the Finnish Estate Agent Association (SKVL) have criticised Finland’s banks for providing slow and poor-quality service that is hampering the real estate market.

In a survey of the association’s members, agents also reported that e-commerce has also not relieved bank congestion, but has instead further slowed trading.

"The real brake on the housing market is now the banks. I have never received as much critical feedback from brokers regarding the operations of banks as this autumn," SKVL's CEO Jussi Mannerberg wrote in a press release.

Banks have cut costs, branches and staff due to the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis, with the knock-on effect that decisions on mortgages are taking significantly longer than previously, according to the findings of the association’s survey.

In some cases, loan decisions took up to a month and a half, as banks have become "overly cautious" in their financial and background checks.

"The operation of banks in this current market situation is strange, because if ever a functioning financial market is needed in order to return to normal life as soon as possible, it is now," Mannerberg said, adding that demand in the market is not being met because of the cautious approach adopted by banks and sellers.

Sales of detached houses in September were on average about two per cent above the normal level for this time of year, while sales of apartments were about two per cent lower than normal.

Meanwhile, the huge demand for summer cottages that began in the spring will continue to be strong throughout the rest of the year, the association predicts.