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The must-have vocab for buying a flat or house in Sweden

Buying a house in Sweden? Not sure how to read a 'planritning' or what a 'budgivning' is? Here's The Local's guide.

The must-have vocab for buying a flat or house in Sweden
Detached houses (villor) in Enskede, Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

The early stages

The first step of any property buying journey comes well before any money has been spent – this is the part of the journey, often before you’ve even decided you’re moving house, where you start scouring property sites such as Hemnet and Booli to see what’s out there.

First off, what is it you’re looking to buy? Are you interested in a villa (detached house)? Or is a radhus (terraced house) what you’re after? Not wild about the idea of having to look after a garden, or want to stay in the city? Then a lägenhet (apartment) is your best bet.

If you’re looking for a holiday home or a summerhouse with space for odling, or growing vegetables, then you want to look for a fritidsboende, or a tomt (plot) if you’ve always dreamt of building your own property exactly how you want it.

Or, have you always dreamed of buying a Swedish farmhouse out in the countryside? Then you can look for a gård, with or without its own skog (forest).

Once you’ve decided what kind of property you want to buy, you can narrow down your search by the maximum price (maxpris), number of rooms (rum) and the size of the living area (boyta/boarea). You might also want your apartment building to have a hiss (lift), or a balkong (balcony).

Is an inglasad balkong (glazed balcony) a must for you? Photo: Ali Lorestani/TT

How do I read a floor plan?

Make sure to take a look at the planritning (floor plan) to get an idea of whether or not the property layout will work for you. Generally, Swedish properties aren’t referred to as “two bedroom”, rather by the number of rooms, then the acronym rok, short for rum och kök (room(s) and kitchen).

A one-bedroom apartment with a separate kitchen, a bathroom and no living room would be a 1 rok, an 1:a or an etta, for example. If there was one bedroom, one living room, a kitchen and a bathroom, it would be a 2:a, a tvåa, or 2 rok. This is why it can be important to look at the planritning, to see how many of those rooms are actually bedrooms. You might also see this written as 4 rum, varav 2 sovrum (four rooms, of which two bedrooms), if you’re looking at larger properties.

In Sweden, you usually buy a property with appliances (vitvaror) included, but lights are not included, rather there will be plug sockets in the ceilings which you can plug your own lights into. So, if you’re moving from abroad, make sure you buy the correct plugs in advance (or have floor lamps close to hand), so you’re not left in the dark.

Don’t expect there to be any lights in your new property when you move in – you’ll need to plug these in yourself, so make sure your lights have the right plugs for the sockets in your new home. Photo: Mona Sandberg/SCANPIX/TT

You’re also likely to see quite a few acronyms on floor plans which may need explaining. DM for example stands for diskmaskin, a dishwasher. K/F is a kyl/frys or fridge-freezer. is a garderob, a wardrobe. TM/TT stands for tvättmaskin/torktumlare, a washing machine and tumble dryer. You might also see KLK, klädkammare, which can also mean a wardrobe, usually in a hallway.

When you’ve found a property you think could be interesting, see if there are any visningar (viewings) coming up. You might need to anmäla (sign-up) for these with the mäklare (estate agent) in charge of selling the property.

If you’re seriously considering buying a property in the near future, it may be a good idea to contact one (or multiple) banks for a lånelöfte, a lender’s note before you start attending viewings. This is a non-binding promise from the bank or lending institute, based on your income, the price of the property and the monthly fee (avgift) for an apartment or terraced house, or the monthly running costs (driftskostnad) of a detached house.

Making a bid

So, you’ve found a property (bostad) you like, and you’ve been to a viewing. You think it’s the one, so you put in a bid (lägga bud). Have a look at the starting price (utgångspris) for an idea on how much you should bid.

If you’re lucky, no one else is interested. If not, you might end up in a budgivning (auction). Often, a mäklare will ask you if you have a lånelöfte before you start bidding, just to make sure you’re serious. It’s a good idea to keep the amount of money your lånelöfte covers secret from the mäklare you’re buying from, as you don’t want them to know the maximum amount you’d be willing to pay.

Once a bid (bud) has been accepted, the köpare (buyer) will meet with the säljare (seller) to sign the contract (underteckna kontraktet). Here, you should discuss things such as tillträde – the date where the buyer will be given access to the property, and how and when the buyer must pay handpenning – their deposit (usually 10 percent of the price of the property, due ten days after the contract has been signed).

Unlike in some countries, bids on an apartment are not legally binding, so the buyer or seller can pull out of the purchase at any point up until the contract has been signed with no legal repercussions.

The rest of the price of the property, the köpeskilling, is paid on the tillträdesdato, the day where the buyers get access to the property. You will usually get this from your bank on the day you move in, but if some of your deposit (kontantinsats) is dependent on the sale of another property, you may need to apply for an överbryggningslån – a loan which allows you to buy a new property before you have received payment for the property you’re selling.

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For members


The Swedish words you need to understand Sweden’s cost of living crisis

Households in Sweden, as elsewhere around the world, are feeling the economic squeeze right now as prices rise, but wages don’t. Here's a vocabulary list from Anneli Beronius Haake to help you understand the cost of living crisis.

The Swedish words you need to understand Sweden's cost of living crisis

The Local reached out to Anneli Beronius Haake (Swedish Made Easy), Swedish teacher and author of Teach Yourself Complete Swedish, to put together a list of words you might hear and read in the upcoming weeks as prices continue to soar.

(ett) elprisstöd – literally, electricity price support. The government may choose to provide support to both individuals and businesses, to help cope with high electric costs.

(ett) högkostnadsskydd – high cost protection. There have previously been discussions about high cost protections to cap electricity prices or agreements for the government to cover everything over a certain amount, but following the recent elections, the status of this proposal is unclear.

(en) amortering vs (en) ränta – if you own your own house or apartment, then you already know that these words refer to payments on your mortgage (noun: amortering, verb: att amortera) and payments against the interest on your mortgage. If you’re thinking about buying, keep an eye on these two – and on interest rates (ränta)!

(en) varmhyra vs (en) kallhyra – if you’re on the market for a new rental apartment, you might see these two words pop up. Varmhyra (literally: “warm rent”) means heating is included in the rental price. Kallhyra (literally, “cold rent”) means that the rental price does not include heating costs.

(en) uppvärmning – heating, or heating costs. If your heating costs are included in your rent, you don’t have to worry about this. Instead, you only need to keep an eye on:

(en) hushållsel – or household electricity. This covers the electricity you use for everything in your home, from charging your mobile phone to using your oven.

Energisnål – energy efficient. You might see this word stuck on a dishwasher or fridge if you’re shopping for new household appliances, signalling that it will help cut down on your electric costs. Similarly, you may see the word att snåla (to scrimp or save) used in the phrases att snåla med energi (to save on energy) or att snåla med pengar (to save money).

(en) energikris – an energy crisis. 

privatekonomi – personal finances. You may see this not only referring to individuals, but also to households, where it will be written as hushållens privatekonomi.

hushållskostnader – household costs, again, linked to hushållens privatekonomi, this usually refers to gemensamma kostnader (shared costs), such as water and electricity bills, insurance and internet, but can also cover other costs such as food, hygiene products such as toilet paper, and even mobile phone contracts.

(ett) energibolag, (en) elproducent – an energy company, an energy producer.

(en) elområde – an energy zone. Sweden is split into four energy zones, with the most expensive energy prices in the south of the country, covering the three largest cities: Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö (zones 3 and 4), and the cheapest prices in the north (zones 1 and 2).

Att spara – to save. This can be in the sense of att spara pengar (to save money), or att spara på kostnader/el (to save on costs/electricity).

Att stiga/öka/höja – these three verbs all relate to increases, but with their own nuances.

Att stiga, or stiger in the present tense means ‘rises’, and can be used to describe rising petrol prices.

Att öka, or ökar in the present tense means ‘increases’, and can be used to describe how the price of groceries are increasing.

Finally, att höja, or höjer in the present tense means ‘raises’ – when you can point out that something or someone has raised the price of something, for example, when describing how banks are raising interest rates.

Att sjunka/minska – these two verbs both relate to decreases, again with their own nuances.

Att sjunka, or sjunker in the present tense (literally sinking) means fall/slump/drop, and can be used to refer to price falls.

Att minska, or minskar, on the other hand, is like ökar, because it is used when describing how something has decreased, like your electricity usage might decrease this winter in light of rising prices.

Similarly to sjunka, you may see the verb att sänka (to lower), in the sense of lowering the heating (att sänka värmen) or lowering household costs (att sänka hushållskostnader).

(en) utgift – an expense, plural utgifter – expenses.

(en) inkomst – income. A source of income would be (en) inkomstskälla.

(en) plånbok – literally, this means wallet. Figuratively, it also means your bank account and its contents. Headlines about money leaving your plånbok don’t mean money is vanishing from your wallet, but from your bank account. During the recent Swedish election, for example, politicians spoke about plånboksfrågor (literally “wallet issues”), issues affecting people’s income and spending power.

Att dra ner på utgifterna – to cut down on your expenses. This is related to the phrase att se över utgifterna: to take a look at your expenses, for example to see if there are any areas you can cut down.

Att dra åt svångremmen – to tighten one’s belt.