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Baltic housing affordability index

The housing affordability index (HAI) increased to 131.3 in Vilnius, but decreased to 151.0 in Riga, and to 163.0 in Tallinn, according to Swedbank, Housing Affordability Index for Baltics - June 2013.

During the first quarter of 2013, housing affordability increased in Vilnius: the housing affordability index (HAI) – which is calculated for a family whose income is equal to 1.5 of average net wages with an average-sized apartment of 55 square meters (sq. m.) – increased from 127.8 in the fourth quarter of last year to 131.3 in the first quarter this year. Over the same period, the HAI in Riga decreased from 156.7 to 151.0, and in Tallinn from 172.0 to 163.0. This means that in the first quarter household wages in Vilnius were higher than needed to afford an apartment by 31.3%, and in Riga by 51.0% and in Tallinn by 63.0% — according to our norm of 30% of net wages for mortgage costs.

In Tallinn, the HAI was lowered by all three factors, but mainly by the higher prices of apartments; in a quarter they rose by 4.3%. A 7-basis-point increase in interest rates and a seasonal decrease in wages also had a negative, but smaller, effect on affordability.

In Riga, affordability was lifted by a 2.4% decline in apartment prices, but this was more than outweighed by 47-basis-point increase in interest rates. A seasonal decrease in wages also had a negative, but smaller, effect on affordability.

In Vilnius, affordability increased mostly due to a 15-basis-point decrease in interest rates. A 0.5% decrease in apartment prices and an increase in wages slightly lifted affordability.

The time needed to save for a down payment decreased by more than one week in Vilnius, to 33.8 months, and by more than two weeks in Riga, to 25 months; it increased by almost five weeks in Tallinn, to 26.1 months.

The HAI is 100 when households use 30% of their net wages for mortgage costs. When the HAI is at least 100, households can afford their housing, according to the established norm. The higher the number, the greater the affordability.

Source: Swedbank, Housing Affordability Index for Baltics - June 2013


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