SPAIN not learning the lesson:
Spain has one of the world's most-troubled housing markets, yet some buyers are suddenly able to get mortgages with 100% financing, and developers are building new homes on empty lots despite a huge glut.UPDATE. Also at the WSJ, Irwin Stelzer writes: Zapatero's State of Denial Will Be Felt Far Beyond Spain as Pain Spreads.
The reason: Spain's banks took possession of a large inventory of homes, buildings and land two years ago, forgiving the debt in hopes of heading off defaults. The plan was to resell the properties when the market bounced back and evade the worst impact of the looming housing crisis.
But Spain's housing market has only gotten worse, and now the bill is coming due as the banks labor under the weight of an estimated €59.7 billion ($73.8 billion) in real-estate assets on their books. Under pressure to make further markdowns on the assets by their main regulator, the Bank of Spain, many banks are now scrambling to unload the properties as quickly as possible.
In some cases, that means offering deals to consumers that are suspiciously like those that got the global housing market in trouble in the first place. The tactics include not just 100% loans, but also low initial teaser rates for buyers or initial payment deferrals for as long as three years.
At the same time, banks that own big plots of unbuilt land are announcing plans to build new houses to give the illiquid lots more value, despite the country's estimated glut of one million empty homes.