Poland Special | CHF loans remain unresolved issue
Swiss franc mortgages still constitute 19% of housing loan portfolio in Poland. Recent rulings did not clarify all open issues. Financial Supervision Authority proposed scheme of voluntary conversions of loans into PLN. Central bank could support banks in conversion.
FX mortgages gained in popularity during the 2006-08 real estate market boom. Low credit costs attracted many customers, as the zloty was strong against major currencies and interest rates on core markets were much lower than in Poland. However, as a consequence of the abrupt depreciation of the zloty in 2H08, the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF) regulated and limited the supply of FX mortgages.
The currency structure of the mortgage portfolio held by commercial banks changed significantly over the last 15 years. The volume of credits in foreign currency peaked in 2011, reaching PLN 192bn, with the CHF being the most common currency. The increase in volume was related to the weakening of the Polish currency to a great extent. As of February 2021, the total volume of housing loans stood at PLN 469bn (approx. EUR 104bn), while CHF mortgages constituted 19% of it (approx. 3.5% of GDP).
The issue of CHF loans remains open in Poland, as recent rulings did not fully dispel all doubts about that matter. The Supreme Court delayed its final decision and will turn to the central bank and KNF for their opinion. The institutions now have 30 days to present their view. Separately, at the end of 2020, the chairman of the KNF presented a scheme of voluntary conversions of CHF loans. In reaction to the KNF’s proposal, the National Bank of Poland issued a statement listing a number of conditions under which it could step in and support banks in the conversion of FX loans.