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Five top tips for foreigners buying an apartment in Sweden

Lee Roden
Lee Roden - [email protected]
Five top tips for foreigners buying an apartment in Sweden
Buying apartments in Sweden can be a confusing business. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Planning to buy your first apartment in Sweden? These five tips from Karin Hellgren, information head at state owned SBAB Bank, should help make the process smoother.


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How exactly does the process of getting a mortgage work in Sweden?

All banks carry out a credit assessment of those who are applying for a loan, where they take into account income, ability to make repayments, possible payment defaults and the item to which the loan relates to.

The terms can vary to a significant degree so it's important to compare different options in order to find the one that best fits your situation. Some banks offer interest rates that are time-restricted, and others want the customer for example to start a savings fund or something else that costs money. As such it's important to see the bigger picture and what the total cost will be if you choose that kind of loan. One the website of virtually all banks you can work out your interest rate and compare players with one another. There are also comparison services that can help.

Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Are there any conditions that could be particularly important to keep in mind for foreign citizens? Is a history of income in Sweden important for example, or permanent employment vs being self-employed?

Different banks have different conditions. Most of them demand a steady income, but individual assessments are made of 'non-traditional' professions and employments. When it comes to being self-employed, you need to be able to show that you've had business activity and have been able to withdraw a salary in order to ensure regular income. A proven salary in a foreign currency can be used as the foundation for a loan, but that can also differ between different parties.

Photo: Adam Wrafter/SvD/TT

When it comes to the viewing process in Sweden, how quickly should you act once you've viewed and know you like the property?

As of late the negotiation times – the amount of time it takes between an item going on the market until it sells – have increased somewhat. In the big cities, properties generally sell quicker than they do in the countryside.

It can take just a couple of weeks – a property shown on a Sunday could very well sell before the following weekend. Bidding is often open and as a prospective buyer it's easy to follow when a new bid comes in. Anyone who is genuinely interested should put down a bid therefore to ensure they're up to date on the bidding process.

Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

How important is the bostadsrättsförening you buy into – a part of the apartment buying process that's unfamiliar to a lot of internationals?

Members of the cooperative have shared responsibility for the entire cooperative's finances, so it's important to be aware of how they look. The best way to do that is to study their annual financial report, and absolutely ask questions of a representative of the board in order to get insight into their finances.

Also ask to know when the plumbing will be changed and if there are any major renovations planned. You can often get a sense of the state of the surfaces, the windows and façade and so on, but it's more difficult to look at things like piping and ventilation at a viewing.

Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

Is it important to find out whether the cooperative owns the land or rents it?

The monthly fee you pay can be impacted by whether the association owns the land or not. In Stockholm it was a big issue a few years back when the city was going to raise the rental fee they charge associations.

The best thing to do is to check how the particular association's situation is when it comes to the land and the length of agreement they have for the land. 

Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT



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