Peru: On the rise
Lima’s real estate market has been experiencing a sustained increase in demand for residential properties and a corresponding rise in housing prices since 2009. This growth is brought on primarily by the strong performance of the economy as a whole, coupled with a burgeoning middle class and more relaxed bank lending policies. Barring any major external economic shocks, housing demand and property values in the capital should continue to rise in the years to come.
According to a recent report by Banco de Crédito del Perú, the country’s largest bank, apartment values per sq metre in Lima’s high-end neighbourhoods have reached $1,144, an increase of 26.9% over 2011. Property values in more middle class neighbourhoods, such as Pueblo Libre, have surged by a fraction over 16%. Jaqueline Fabian of Alfredo Graf & Asociados, a Lima-based real estate agency, told OBG that prices are up by 15-20% over last year throughout the city as a whole.
The growing demand for housing in Lima is fuelled in part by a surge in the number of young people seeking to invest in their first home. In a statement to local press, Juan Manuel Castro, the real estate business manager at BBVA Continental, indicated that 32% of the mortgage funds lent by the bank are going into the hands of Peruvians between the ages of 25 and 35.
While young people are important contributors to growing demand in Lima’s real estate sector, it appears that Peruvians in general have more recently begun to lean more towards buying than renting a home. Fabian told OBG that families from Peru’s middle class are major contributors to the growing demand for homes.
They are being helped by banks, which are facilitating home ownership through more lenient lending policies. Potential homebuyers with monthly incomes as low as PEN800 ($300) are able to qualify for a mortgage with certain lending institutions. In many cases, the only documentation required as part of the mortgage application is proof of a steady stream of income, which can be established by showing pay stubs or bank account statements.
Government-sponsored programmes also support new homeowners. For example, the Mivivienda fund provides qualified loan recipients with home loans of between $20,000 and $70,000. Techo Propio, another home-buying subsidy programme sponsored by the government, is aimed more specifically at lower-income individuals.
According to the country’s central bank, mortgage funds disbursed are already up 25% over last year. Compare this to 2009, when mortgages grew by 16.3%. While still an impressive accomplishment in light of the economic crisis at that time, mortgages have grown by 20% every year since then. Average home lending rates currently hover around 8% for loans denominated in dollars and 9.3% for loans denominated in the local currency.
While Lima’s high-end neighbourhoods such as Miraflores and San Isidro have experienced the largest increase in homes prices, these parts of the city remain largely out of reach for the average Peruvians or for buyers relying on government-subsidised programmes with predetermined lending limits.
According to local press, on average middle-class families tend to search out homes valued between $54,000 and $138,000. A recent Peruvian Chamber of Construction study also revealed that the homes that are most in demand in Lima at present are priced even lower, between $30,000 and $50,000. At these price points, neighbourhoods such as Jesús María, San Miguel, Pueblo Libre, Surco and Lince are more popular options.
As incomes in Lima continue to rise at a rate that outpaces other areas of the country, the city’s real estate sector should continue to thrive. Indeed, Fabian predicts that the current trend will continue for at least the next three years.
While there is still room for growth in terms of housing lending, which accounted for just 4.4% of GDP in 2011, the biggest challenge going forward may be finding enough space within Lima’s city limits to satisfy the demands of eager first-time buyers.
Walter Piazza, president of the Peruvian Chamber of Construction, recently told local press that Lima is experiencing unsatisfied demand for housing totalling more than 390,000 homes at the moment. This problem is likely to become exacerbated in the future as demand continues to grow faster than new homes can be built.