The housing savings plan could become more attractive for financing loans


(AFP / LUDOVIC MARIN)

In recent years, the housing savings plan (PEL) was unattractive and set aside as a means of financing a loan, its original purpose. The rise in rates could reshuffle the cards for the PEL, which could soon take its revenge.

The latest score from the Banque de France recorded an increase in the borrowing rate since the start of 2022. While they averaged 1.10% in December 2021, they rose to around 1 .68% last September.

While the profession noted borrowing rates at 2.05% last October, it is very confident about the future attractiveness of the loan rate backed by PELs signed since August 2016, at 2.20%.

“Given the rise in rates, the guarantee of being able to finance itself at 2.20% in five to ten years is an interesting option,” Pierre-Yves Godard, commercial director of Crédit Agricole Nord de France, told AFP. .

The PEL is a hybrid product: it is used to build up savings for the purchase of real estate or the carrying out of work, then to finance this project.

It therefore displays two rates: a first defining the remuneration of the savings deposited there (1% gross since August 1, 2016) and a second blocking a borrowing rate, 1.20% higher (since February 1 2015), for the next 15 years.

The ELP “diverted” from its historical objective, according to the Court of Auditors

The PEL is a hybrid product: it is used to build up savings for the purchase of real estate or the carrying out of work, then to finance this project.

It therefore displays two rates: a first defining the remuneration of the savings deposited there (1% gross since August 1, 2016) and a second blocking a borrowing rate, 1.20% higher (since February 1 2015), for the next 15 years.

In September, the Court of Auditors even considered that the PEL was “diverted from the historical objective of home ownership to become a long-term savings product”.

Unlike other regulated products such as the Livret A, the rates of a PEL remain those in effect on the day of signing, allowing the holder to “block” a rate.

However, the PEL rates are recalculated each year – on December 5 at the latest – by the Banque de France. “The new rate is applicable on the first day of the month following its publication”, specifies the central bank. If it does take place immediately after, the new rate will therefore apply on January 1st.

According to initial estimates, the return on savings from a PEL could return to 2% and that of the credit rate should therefore pass the 3% mark.

However, the ELP is subject to strict conditions. The maximum amount of the loan is 92,000 euros, and it can only be done at least three years after the opening of the contract.

The borrowable amount may be lower since it also depends on the interest obtained. The state bonus, long associated with this plan, has been removed for contracts taken out since 2018.

Old PEL advantageous in terms of savings

At the end of 2021, the number of PELs stood at 12.2 million, according to data from the Banque de France, for a total outstanding amount of 296.1 billion euros.

If the PEL signed before the upcoming revaluation of rates could soon become advantageous on the credit side, the oldest are still advantageous on the savings side, to the chagrin of bankers and the Court of Auditors.

“Those who have old PELs have no interest in closing them at all,” said Mr. Crevel. PELs opened before 1994, for example, offer returns above 4%.

In a report published at the beginning of September, the Court of Auditors associated old PELs with a “genuine annuity, in particular for the benefit of elderly holders holding high outstandings”, even recommending “to think about a deletion device”.

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