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No big rush by borrowers to join state assistance programme

Hungarians with foreign currency-denominated mortgage loans have made no big rush to join a state assistance programme, banks say. 

The assistance programme, launched on Friday, fixes the exchange rate for repayments on the loans and puts the difference between that fixed rate and the market rate on a separate forint account to be repaid later. The programme's rate for Swiss franc-based loans -- once the most popular lending product in Hungary -- is 180 forints to the franc, well under the market rate of around 237 on Thursday.

OTP Bank, Hungary's biggest commercial lender, told MTI a few dozen clients ask for information about the assistance programme every day, but just a few applications to join have been submitted. No new contracts have been signed yet, it added.

OTP Bank, which has 160,000 clients with CHF-denominated loans, expects about 10-15% of borrowers to avail of the programme. Erste Bank told MTI there was a noticeable increase in interest in the programme at branches, but it was not so significant to be called a big rush. Most clients are first asking for advice and information, the bank added.

Erste Bank expects 5-10 clients to ask to join the state assistance programme at its bigger branches this week.

CIB Bank said interest in the programme was moderate, with about 250 clients a day asking about the possibility of joining, one-third of these in the capital. Just seven applications to joint the programme have been made at the bank, CIB Bank added.