The number of foreclosed homes in Portugal is expected to decline for a second year in 2014 as the nation’s economy and real estate market rebound, said Miguel Maya, an executive board member at Banco Comercial Portugues SA, Portugal’s second-biggest listed bank.
“As the economy begins to improve, all the conditions are there for banks to receive fewer homes and for loan defaults to decline,” Maya said in an interview yesterday. “On the other hand, there is a greater propensity for investors to buy real estate assets.”
Banco Comercial took back 1.4 billion euros ($1.9 billion) worth of real estate last year, down from 1.5 billion euros in 2012, it said in a statement yesterday. Homeowners returned about 2,500 properties to banks in 2013, a 55 percent decline from a year earlier, according to the Portuguese Real Estate Professionals and Brokers Association.
The decline is partly due to the country’s economic recovery, said Maya. Portugal’s economy may expand more than 1 percent in 2014 after coming out of the worst recession in at least 25 years in the second quarter of last year, Economy Minister Antonio Pires de Lima said on January 21.
Banks now may be “more sensitive” to the economic difficulties some of their clients are facing, said Maya. “Banks are doing everything possible so that people can remain in their homes, and to find solutions that are appropriate and flexible.”
Banco Comercial, based in Oporto, Portugal, may continue to increase foreclosed-home sales this year, bolstered by a rebound in the Portuguese property market. The bank sold 3,434 properties in 2013, 29 percent more than a year earlier, Banco Comercial said in a regulatory filing yesterday. It’s using the Internet, auctions and partnerships with local and foreign real estate agents to promote foreclosure sales.
“The real estate market, in some regions, is already showing some signs of a rebound,” said Maya. “That’s helped sell properties.”
Portugal is trying to regain full access to debt markets as the 78 billion-euro rescue program put in place in 2011 approaches its end in May.