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ECONOMY

Stockholm ranks fourth on ‘club sandwich index’

The 2014 "Club Sandwich Index" has revealed that an average Stockholm hotel's club sandwiches are the fourth most expensive in the world, setting hungry guests back 157 kronor ($24) a pop.

Stockholm ranks fourth on 'club sandwich index'
File photo: The Roaming Boomers/Flickr

Hungry in your Stockholm hotel? You might want to avoid room service. Hotels in the Swedish capital host some of the world's most costly grub, according to the third annual "Club Sandwich Index" released on Monday.

The index, based on research by Hotels.com, was calculated from prices for a Club Sandwich at 30 different hotels within each of the 28 cities examined. Prices from three, four, and five-star hotels were included. 

While spending that much time and energy researching the price of a sandwich may seem more trivial than enlightening, the CSI (Club Sandwich Index, that is) revealed a fair amount about currency fluctuations and value as well.

"The Club Sandwich Index offers travellers a simple price comparison to show how far their money may stretch in each country, using the most common item on any hotel menu," stated Hotels.com communications director Alison Couper.

Stockholm ranked fourth last year as well, although the price for the sandwich has increased by $3.

The club sandwich is a flavoursome fortification of turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise snuggled between two or three slices of toast. Rumour has it the sandwich, which made its debut on restaurant menus over a century ago, has its origins in New York. Today the city charges about $18 for the creation.

Switzerland's Geneva took the cake for the world's most expensive club sandwich, costing nearly $33. Paris and Helsinki also topped the list, and choosing to lunch in Oslo over Stockholm will only save you a bit of pocket change.

If you're looking for the most bang for your buck, the cheapest clubs can be found in New Delhi and Mexico City. 

"The next time you're tucking into a Club in Geneva," Couper remarked, "remember you could have three more for your money in New Delhi."

A similar study by TripAdvisor in March compared room service prices in 48 countries. The results concurred largely with those of Hotels.com, ranking Stockholm fifth and Zurich fourth. The most expensive club sandwiches in the world, they noted, were in Helsinki.

Solveig Rundquist
Follow Solveig on Twitter.

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PROPERTY

Why is Sweden seeing ‘biggest drop in house prices since Lehman’?

Housing prices in Sweden are dropping much faster than most experts predicted, with one analyst calling it "the biggest drop since the Lehman crash". How long prices continue to fall for and how should buyers and sellers react?

Why is Sweden seeing 'biggest drop in house prices since Lehman'?

How fast have house prices in Sweden been falling? 

Property prices have been dropping considerably faster than most analysts expected.

“We are on the way to having an extremely dramatic half year,” Nordea’s analyst, Gustav Helgesson, told TT. “It was expected that they would go down, but this is still very dramatic. In one month, we’ve had the biggest fall since the Lehman crash.” 

Stockholm is where the falling trend has hit the hardest, with property prices dropping around 8 percent over the last three months.

Historically, prices are lower and more volatile during the summer months and if you take this into account, the drop is only 2.2 percent. 

What’s driving the fall in prices? 

House buyers in Sweden have just witnessed “one of the biggest increase in interest rates for households in modern times”, Helgesson pointed out, adding that his bank did not expect interest rates to drop anytime soon. Their forecast is instead that the policy rate will be at 2 percent by the end of year, a substantial increase from today’s 0.75 percent.

Nordea now believes that the drop in property prices will continue, and that towards the end of next year, prices could drop by 10 percent, more even than in March. 

According to Robert Bergqvist, senior economist at Swedish bank SEB, the price drop is bigger than analysts originally anticipated: “Obviously the interest rate hikes have had a very big effect,” he said. “People believe this is the end of low interest rates, and then there’s also a continuing worry over inflation”. 

According to an indicator published by Sweden’s SEB bank, only 31 percent of those interviewed believed that prices would continue to rise in the coming year, an 11 percent decrease on last month. Around half of those interviewed believed instead that prices would fall.

“We are heading towards a very dramatic six months, or at least until the end of the year. Housing prices are depressed, interest rates have a lot of power and in the short term, rates have not increased as much as they are going to”, Helgesson said. 

So could the falls be permanent, or at least take years to recover? 

Prices are unlikely to stay this low for very many years, Bergqvist said, pointing to the continuing housing shortage in Sweden. 

In SEB’s survey, 204 out of 290 reported that there was shortage in the housing market in May. This could lead to price increases in the future unless new housing is built, he predicted. 

“It is not necessarily positive: if there are no building developments, there is also a loss of growth and people can’t move into places where jobs are available. Our demographics show that we must continue building, otherwise prices will stay high”, he said.

How should buyers and sellers react to the falling market? 

Bergqvist underlined that people still tended to have a different perception of market, depending on which side of the property sale they stood. Sellers tended to still have a lot of optimism, while buyers were more pessimistic.

This, he said, was creating an unbalance in the market, which Berqvist predicted would slow down the housing market in the coming months, and then lead to continuing declines, as sellers slowly accepted lower prices. 

Bergqvist advised sellers who have already bought a new house to be as flexible as possible on the price they get for their old one. 

“The most important thing to try to get out of the place you are trying to sell as fast as you can,” he said. “It’s not the time to look back and have too high expectations. It’s best not have two properties”.

He also underlined the importance of having a margin when selling, warning that it is always hard to hit the highest or lowest price possible when negotiating the sale of a property.

“But if you wish to have your property in the long run, then it’s not too important what happens with house prices in the short term perspective,” he said. 

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