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Brazil's Abecip expects 6% mortgage growth in 2017

Brazilian mortgage lenders association Abecip says it expects mortgage loans in the country to increase 6% in 2017, Valor Econômico reported.

The announcement, which falls broadly in line with Brazilian banks' own expectations for stronger credit demand, comes at a time of high political scenario in Brazil, where President Michel Temer faces allegations of endorsing bribe payments to a potential witness in the country's largest-ever graft probe. Temer has denied the allegations and refused to step down amid calls for his impeachment.

Despite the uncertainties, "we maintain the outlook," Abecip President Gilberto Duarte de Abreu Filho was quoted as saying. The association believes the fall in the interest rate benchmark should sustain the growth in mortgages.

Further, Duarte estimates that Banco Central do Brasil's recent measure to end a 5.5% additional requirement on compulsory savings accounts "should direct 6 billion reais into the mortgage segment," almost half of the total sum expected to be released by the measure. Still, the influx would only represent a 1.1% increase, as total mortgage portfolio for individuals sit at 545.1 billion reais in April, the publication added.

The continued expectation for stronger mortgage lending has been echoed by a number of Brazil's major banks recently. Caixa Econômica Federal, which controls 67.5% of Brazil's mortgage market and held about 412.9 billion reais in mortgages at March 31, expects to close 2017 with between 90 billion and 100 billion reais in new loans, Valor cited housing vice president Nelson Antonio de Souza.

Executives from Banco Santander (Brasil) SA, Banco Bradesco SA and Banco do Brasil SA have also expressed optimism for their mortgage businesses, according to the newspaper.

"Real estate lending is regaining momentum, with the trend growing again in 2018," Fabrizio Ianelli, the executive superintendent for Santander Brasil's real estate business, reportedly said, noting that the bank saw higher mortgage requests in both April and May.

As of May 30, US$1 was equivalent to 3.26 Brazilian reais.