(Bloomberg) -- Lending to Swedish households slowed for a twelfth consecutive month, as fewer homes trade hands at lower values, and interest rates continue to rise.

In April, the annual growth rate of lending to households was as low as 1.9%, the smallest increase since Statistics Sweden began collecting the data in 2006. Mortgages accounted for 83% of total lending to households, the agency said in a statement.

After decades of virtually unbroken price gains in the nation’s housing market, prices started falling in the second quarter of 2022, and while the situation appears to have stabilized in the first months of this year, the number of sales remain far fewer than normal. In April, that number had plunged 28% from a year earlier, according to data from realtor organization Maklarstatistik.  

Most economists now expect the decline to resume as households remain under pressure from rapidly rising consumer prices as well as higher mortgage costs.  

In its efforts to rein in inflation, the Swedish central bank rate has brought its benchmark rate to 3.5% from zero within a year, making it more expensive for prospective home buyers to borrow. Monday’s release from Statistics Sweden showed that the average interest rate on new agreements for mortgages rose above 4% In April, for the first time since 2012.

--With assistance from Joel Rinneby.

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