Weekly bul­letin 11 Decem­ber 2023

The number of first-time buyers on the housing market is up by 40% between the second and third quarter of the year. They went from 26% to 33% of all buyers, which is similar to pandemic figures, when interest rates were at their lowest.
11 December 2023

The week ahead

  • Today, the Icelandic Tourist Board releases tourist figures for November.
  • On Tuesday, the price measurement week of Statistics Iceland ends.
  • On Thursday, Statistics Iceland publishes data from the income composition measurement of the household sector in the third quarter.
  • On Friday, the Central Bank of Iceland (CBI) publishes payment mediation figures for November.

Image of the week

The housing market has picked up this winter and housing prices are rising again. Despite limited access to credit, the number of first-time buyers is up by 40% between the second and third quarters and they went from 26% of all buyers to 33%. This is similar to pandemic figures, when interest rates were at their lowest, allowing more people to enter the housing market. Various factors are at play here, such as easier access to participation loans following the relaxation of conditions for such loans in the third quarter. Participation loans are designed to assist first-time buyers into the market. Public debate about an impending housing shortage and price increases may also fuel demand. A more positive attitude towards inflation-indexed loans and their increasing popularity may be an influencing factor - inflation-indexed borrowing has increased greatly in recent months.

Highlights of the previous week

  • The CBI published the minutes of the meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee 20-21 November. For the first time since March, the MPC was unanimous in its decision. The MPC decided to maintain unchanged policy rates in light of the uncertainty caused by seismic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula. The minutes reveal that a deteriorating inflation outlook and residual heat in the economy would have prompted a wage hike were it not for the aforementioned uncertainty.
  • The Financial Stability Committee published a statement to the effect that the financial system is sound and the equity and liquidity positions of the banks strong. Defaults remain low and have risen but minimally despite rising inflation. The countercyclical capital buffer was kept unchanged at 2.5%.
  • Registered unemployment was 3.4% in November according to the monthly report released by the Directorate of Labour on Friday. Unemployment is up from 3.2% in October. In 2022, unemployment held steady between October and November. This increase now could be attributed to less tension in the labour market in line with lower demand in the economy.
  • Alma íbúðafélag finalised its auction of bills, Hagar published the results of its bills auction, Arion Bank published the results of its bond issuance and Kvika Bank released the results of its issuance of subordinated bonds.

Statistics and market data

Weekly bulletin 11 December 2023 (PDF in Icelandic)

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