(Adds quote, outlook, background)
OSLO, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The sale of new Norwegian homes fell by 33 percent year-on-year in January while housing starts fell by 37 percent, the Norwegian Home Builders’ Association (NHBA) said on Wednesday.
Tighter mortgage regulations, lower population growth and a boom in construction in recent years have contributed to a drop in demand for new housing.
“We’ll see poor numbers also in February and March,” NHBA Chief Executive Per Jaeger told a news conference, adding that a turnaround was not likely until May or June.
“That depends however on what the finance ministry decides to do about the mortgage lending rules,” Jaeger said.
The finance ministry last year made it more difficult to obtain a mortgage by lowering loan-to-value requirements and altering tax incentives.
In November, the ministry asked Norway’s banking regulator to evaluate whether the rules should be terminated, adjusted or left as they are. (Reporting by Camilla Knudsen, writing by Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche)