Cypriot lender AstroBank on Wednesday announced that it is freezing the base interest rate for first-time homebuyers for all eligible borrowers.

“AstroBank is moving forward with a programme to reward vulnerable borrowers with on-time payments on housing loans,” the bank said in a statement.

“This programme involves the freezing of the Base Interest Rate (ECB and Euribor),” it added.

According to the announcement, the programme applies to first-time housing loans with a value not exceeding €350,000 and which are linked either to the Base Interest Rate of the European Central Bank or to Euribor.

Moreover, the programme will be valid from June 1, 2023, until December 31, 2023, and will establish a frozen base interest rate of 2.75 per cent, covering both existing loans and those disbursed during the programme’s duration.

The statement further clarified that the precondition for inclusion in the programme is that the first-time housing loan does not have any payment delays during the programme’s implementation.

Borrowers who settle any delayed payments on housing loans with AstroBank by June 30, 2023, will also be eligible to join the programme. To remain in the new pricing programme, the bank said, the housing loan must not have any payment delays during the programme.

Furthermore, eligible borrowers will be automatically enrolled in the programme without requiring any action on their part, and they can be informed about their reduced loan interest rate and the corresponding instalment by contacting the bank’s branch network.

The bank went on to say that at the end of the programme, or in the event of any payment delays on the housing loan during its duration, the loan will continue to accrue interest based on the applicable base interest rate at that time, which may change, excluding the terms of the programme.

“AstroBank acknowledges the difficulties faced by its customers due to inflationary pressures, which have led the European Central Bank to continuously increase their interest rates in recent months, affecting the instalments of housing loans linked to the base interest rate of the European Central Bank and Euribor,” the bank said.

“In this context, and in response to the calls of the Minister of Finance, the bank deemed it necessary to support its vulnerable customers during this challenging period,” it added.

“The bank will absorb any additional interest rate increases during the programme’s duration,” the announcement concluded.