* Demand for loans in 2012 hit by debt-laden builders
* Group estimates sharp slowdown in 2012 credit growth
SAO PAULO Dec 14 Brazilian homebuyers and
builders are expected to increase demand for loans next year
after dismal economic activity in 2012 led to a steep downward
revision in estimates for mortgages, real estate loans and
savings association Abecip said on Friday.
New housing credit are expected to end the year at around 85
billion reais ($40.1 billion), down from a previous estimate of
96 billion reais, Abecip President Octavio de Lazari Jr. said in
an interview. Homebuilders who cut back on starting projects to
protect their balance sheets were the main culprit behind the
revision, Lazari said.
Abecip estimates that housing credit increased 6 percent
from last year -- a sharp slowdown compared with the nearly 40
percent annual expansion seen in January.
Demand by homebuyers remained strong, which will drive up
loan disbursements next year as the economy recovers, he said.
"We expect housing credit to expand between 15 and 20
percent (next year), depending on market conditions, economic
growth, employment and income levels," Lazari said.
Abecip's estimates are based on the so-called Brazilian
system of savings and loans, known as SBPE for its Portuguese
Brazil's economy is expected to grow 3.5 percent in 2013, up
from a forecast of 1 percent this year, according to the median
forecast in a weekly central bank poll of economists.
Homebuilders such as PDG Realty SA, Rossi
Residencial SA and Brookfield Incorporações SA
slowed project launches to improve profitability as
constructions costs soared. Brazil's low unemployment, while
boosting demand for home purchases, also increased labor costs
President Dilma Rouseff's government earlier this month
reduced payroll taxes on the construction sector. The move was
part of a broad effort to revive Brazil's economy, including 10
straight interest rate cuts and targeted credit subsidies.
Home prices soared in Brazil in the past few years as
millions of people joined the middle class, but moderated
recently. Lazari said prices are not going to fall because
demand for new homes remains strong.