Buying a house in Sweden

Buying a house in Sweden: Everything you need to know about buying property in Sweden

Buying a house in Sweden is tempting for many foreign nationals. The country has high standards of living, and the idea of living in one of those cute red cabins isn’t the worst thing in the world.

If you’ve been living in Sweden for a while, and you plan to settle in the country, you might decide that now is the time to purchase a property. When doing so, you can choose between whether you want a place to permanently live — and purchasing a summer house is also possible.

Finding a place to live in Sweden is sometimes challenging, but you can choose from several towns and cities. And if you want to live in an apartment instead of a house, you can also go for that. You will find several companies listing places for sale, giving you a little more flexibility when looking.

Before you bid for a property in Sweden, understanding the basics is a good idea. This article will explain how to buy a house in Sweden, discussing the bidding process and what the rules are for foreign citizens wishing to make a purchase in the country.

Without further ado, let’s dig in.

Buying a house in Sweden

Buying property in Sweden

Before we get into the grittier details, let’s look at the process for when you buy property in Sweden. In the subsections below, you’ll learn the necessary information about the types of accommodation available — along with what the bidding process looks like.

The buying process

When buying a house in Sweden, the process might be a little different from what you’re used to. In particular, the bidding process will likely be more competitive than what you’ve experienced in most other countries. It’s not uncommon for bidding wars to occur, and you should factor that into your budget.

When buying a house in Norway and Denmark, bids you make are legally binding. However, that is not the case in Sweden. Moreover, you can bid on more than one property simultaneously. The bidding will commence once the property is up on the market, and you can place yours if you decide that you like the place after viewing it.

When you’re outbid, you will receive notifications via mobile phone; it’s up to you whether you want to increase the price you’re willing to pay or move on and look elsewhere. If you win a bidding war, you’ll move onto the steps of securing the place; your best bet is to make an offer before others get in on the act.

Ideally, you’ll ensure that this is private so that others don’t see it and decide to price you out of your dream new home.

One thing also worth noting is that agents hold an open viewing for homes in Sweden, meaning that other people interested in the place you’re vying for will be in the same room. Fortunately, you can benefit from the fact that the agent needs to take care of the legal process for you.

When someone accepts your bid offer, you will need to ensure that your deposit is ready. In most cases, you will need to pay 15% of the house’s value. Once you’ve completed that particular phase, the rest of the process should run pretty smoothly — and you can begin getting excited for your moving day.

Buying a house in Sweden

Types of properties you can buy in Sweden

If you decide to purchase a property for sale in Sweden, you’ve got plenty of options in terms of accommodation choices. If you’ve spent a lot of time in the centre of big cities like Stockholm, Malmö, and Gothenburg, you will probably find the idea of moving into one of those older apartment buildings quite appealing.

Needless to say, however, that you will face stern competition in these areas — particularly in districts like Södermalm.

In the big cities, you will also find a wide selection of newer apartments that have gone up in recent years. These properties are usually in modern neighbourhoods that previously consisted of industrial areas.

Västra Hamnen in Malmö is perhaps the best-known example; if you want to live close to the water, picking one of these districts is a good idea. Another example is Stockholm’s Hammarby Sjöstad neighbourhood, which is on the same island as Södermalm in the city centre.

Of course, we can’t forget about those cabins you see dotted throughout rural areas. If you don’t want to give up the big city lifestyle, you don’t need to travel too far to find a place of your own.

Many of Stockholm’s suburbs have homes in this architectural style, including Tyresö. You can also find places to live like this in the Stockholm and Gothenburg archipelago, along with in several small towns throughout the country.

When looking at homes for sale in Sweden, you can also find a selection of other kinds of houses in suburban areas. Many of these are still within close proximity to city centres, and it’s worth looking at these if you don’t mind the commuting time.

In Stockholm, for example, you can reach the downtown area via a network of buses, commuter trains, ferries, and more.

Buying a house in Sweden

Is it easy to buy property in Sweden?

If we talk about the legal side of things, yes — it’s easy to buy a property in Sweden. And once you’ve had a bid accepted, things often run smoothly. However, the stages until then can be a significant challenge.

Because housing is so competitive, it’s not uncommon for bidding wars to ensue. Of course, you still need a little room for manoeuvre when budgeting for the place you want to buy — and doing so will give you an upper hand.

One thing worth noting is that some people have complained about non-genuine bids bumping up the price of properties for sale. We couldn’t verify whether this was true, however, and bidders’ identity is listed in contracts.

Nonetheless, you should consider the possibilities that this might happen to you; if you feel like you’re overpaying, you might want to move your efforts elsewhere.

How much does a house cost in Sweden?

Like neighbouring Denmark, buying a house in Sweden will vary dramatically from a pricing perspective. If you want to find something in and around Stockholm, you can expect to pay a lot more than in other parts of the country — and that includes when compared to some of the other big cities.

Moreover, you’ll need to deal with the housing shortage in many of the main cities.

If we look at statistics on Numbeo (cited 21st September 2022), we can find a representation of how much you’d expect to pay for properties in different parts of the country.

If you were to purchase a place to live in the capital, you could expect to pay an average of 115,563.60 Swedish Kronor (SEK) per square metre for an apartment in the centre. When translated to GBP, this costs around £9,267.

Outside of downtown Stockholm, an apartment costs 70,417.70 SEK per square metre on average.

On the flipside, apartment prices are much lower in Malmö — Sweden’s third-biggest city. The average price per square metre for an apartment in the city centre is 39,928.57 SEK — and you can expect to pay roughly 27,571.43 SEK for one outside the main part of town.

If you find a job in Copenhagen but don’t want to pay for a place in the Danish capital, purchasing an apartment in Malmö and commuting could be a viable option in some instances (this will depend largely on your citizenship).

In Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-biggest city, prices fall somewhere in the middle of Stockholm and Malmö. The average square metre price for an apartment in the centre of town is 62,937.08 SEK — and you’ll pay roughly 40,054.69 SEK per square metre for something outside of the city centre.

Sweden has several medium-sized cities, including the popular university town Uppsala. If you fancy living a little further north than Stockholm, you might want to look at places to stay in this picturesque part of the country.

The average square metre price for an apartment in central Uppsala is 42,500 SEK, with the price dropping to 27,666.67 SEK for one outside the main part of town.

Can a non-EU citizen buy a property in Sweden?

If you were to move to Sweden as a resident, the rules are significantly different for European countries and non-EU citizens — with the exception of EEA and Swiss nationals. If you’re from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland, you can live in Sweden without needing to obtain a visa.

For citizens outside of this region, including UK citizens moving from 2021 onwards, you need a valid reason to move here. So, what are the rules for a third-country citizen wanting to buy a property in Sweden?

In short, you do not have legal restrictions on buying a property in Sweden if you’re from outside the EU. In fact, people can freely bid for and buy houses in the country without being permanent residents — or residents altogether.

Of course, you’ll need to ensure that you can actually afford the place.

Another perk is that you don’t need to be an EU citizen to get a mortgage in Sweden — nor do you even need to live in the country. So, if you’re serious about wanting to purchase a property in the country, we recommend that you listen to your dreams and make them happen.

Buying a house in Sweden

Pros and cons of buying property in Sweden

Okay, so you’ve now got a good understanding of whether you’re allowed to buy a property in Sweden or not. You probably don’t need us to tell you that purchasing a place to live will naturally come with several benefits and drawbacks, however.

In the subsections below, you’ll learn the main pros and cons of getting involved in Sweden real estate and buying your own property.

Pro: Swedish houses are well-designed

If you want to buy homes for sale in Sweden, you’ll likely enjoy a place that is of excellent quality living-wise. Swedish houses and apartments are typically well-insulated, giving you maximum protection from those harsh winters when they come around.

Moreover, you will typically find all the amenities you need.

One thing worth noting is that many Swedish homes aren’t spacious compared to other countries, especially if you buy an apartment in an older building. However, you can use it as an opportunity to practise minimalism and remove all of the belongings you don’t need.

Pro: Plenty of types of homes available

Regardless of what you’re looking for, Sweden probably has a house designed for you. You can choose whether you want to live in a big city or if you’d prefer to be in a remote location. Similarly, you can choose whether you want to base yourself in a wooden cabin or a modern apartment.

In Sweden, you also have plenty of options when purchasing a summer house. You can opt for one on a remote island, and you will also find a selection of choices close to beaches in the south of the country. On top of that, you can purchase a cabin in a forest if you’d prefer.

Pro: You can find pretty affordable prices in many parts of the country

Although Sweden is one of Europe’s most expensive countries, house prices are actually quite low in many parts. If you’re flexible with your location, you can find excellent value for money in cities like Helsingborg and Malmö.

Similarly, you will find plenty of places in northern parts of Sweden that offer good value for money. So, if you fancy trying out the lifestyle in the high north, consider looking at urban centres like Luleå and Umeå.

Pro: You don’t have to be a resident to buy property in Sweden

One of the biggest benefits of buying a house in Sweden is that you don’t actually have to live in the country. Moreover, you do not have to be a Swedish citizen to purchase a property.

This is a stark comparison from Denmark, where — in most cases — you need to have lived in the country for at least five years to buy a property as a foreigner.

If you only want to reside in Sweden for part of the year, you can choose from a wide range of housing. One thing worth noting, however, is that you are still required to adhere to immigration rules; if you’re a non-EU citizen staying for more than 90 days, you need a residence permit.

You should also note that if you spend more than six consecutive months in the country, you will typically need to pay taxes on money you earn in Sweden.

Con: Buying a place in the centre of Stockholm can be expensive

While you can find places to live throughout Sweden, most expats come to Stockholm — and that’s where the majority of jobs for foreigners are. As a result, you might end up being tied to location — and in that case, you will need to participate in housing for Sweden’s most expensive city.

If you plan to stay in Stockholm for the long run, you’ll need to come to terms with the fact that you’ll need to pay more in most cases — plus the high cost of living. Similarly, you will also need to prepare yourself for the bidding war and do whatever you can to minimise the chances that you’re caught in one.

Con: The Swedish housing market is competitive in the big cities

Tying in with the above point, you can expect fierce competition when trying to buy a house in Sweden’s big cities. In addition to Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg also have pretty stringent markets in this respect. As such, you might need to bid for more than one property before you find what you like.

The best advice we can give you in these instances is to try and not get too attached emotionally to one place. Instead, keep your options open and allow yourself to be surprised.

Con: You’re not guaranteed right of residence because you own property in Sweden

If you’re not from an EU country, obtaining a Swedish residence permit is sometimes difficult and time-consuming. But if you were thinking about buying a house in Sweden so you could get one, we’re disappointed to inform you that it doesn’t work like that.

To get a residence permit in Sweden, you need to have a reason to be in the country. Examples include work, studying, and starting a business (under certain conditions). In addition to not being granted a residence permit on the basis of owning a property, you also cannot get Swedish citizenship on this alone. 

Can the Swedish government seize foreigners’ property?

If you’re buying a house in a country other than your own, you will probably have a lot of questions about what power the authorities have over you. When buying a house in Sweden, one common question is whether the government has the right to seize foreigners’ property.

In most cases, you should not have to worry about the government seizing your property. The only time you might have cause for concern is if you’re involved in criminal activity of some kind.

One thing to note is that in July 2022, the Swedish government announced that it planned to give the police more power to seize ID for non-Swedes. The measure is to crack down on the number of people living in the country illegally.

The rules will, if they come into place, allow the police to seize ID documents until they have determined whether the individual is allowed to be in Sweden legally.

Buying a house in Sweden

Does property appreciate in Sweden?

When buying a house in Sweden, knowing whether you’ll get a potential return in the future is a good idea. And if you’re looking at things from a property investment perspective, recent trends show that house prices across the country have dropped.

The HOX Sweden housing price index suffered a dip in mid-2022, with Bloomberg reporting that Valueguard found a 2.9% drop between June and July of that month. When commenting on the matter, Gustav Helgesson — an analyst for Nordea — said:

“We would not be surprised if prices level out temporarily in Stockholm since the decline has been especially dramatic in the region, but the further rise in interest rates should continue to cool down demand throughout the year.”

While we are not financial advisors, we think that you should look at Stockholm as one of the areas with the highest appreciation in the future. Similarly, Malmö has become more and more popular with young people in recent years.

Real estate listings in Sweden

If you’ve decided that you’re ready to buy a house in Sweden, knowing where to look is a good idea. Hemnet is the largest housing portal in the country, and it gets more than 60 million monthly visits; for context, Sweden’s population is around 10.4 million.

With Hemnet, you can search based on the area you want to live and the address.

Blocket is another housing portal that is popular when looking at houses and apartments for sale. Like Hemnet, you can search based on your preferred location. You can also add extra parameters, such as pricing and the number of square metres you’ll have.

Swedish real estate website in English

If you don’t speak Swedish, you will probably want to find a Swedish real estate website in English. However, if you go on the ones listed above, you’ll notice that everything is in Swedish. You can use Google Translate, which will at least give you some guidance.

Another alternative is to go to housing agents in person and talk to the people there in English. Many Swedes are proficient in the language, and you should be able to seek the help you need.

Buying a house in Sweden

Buying your own house in Sweden

Buying a house in Sweden can take a lot of work, but doing so is well worth it if you want to make your dreams come true. If you’re willing to persist, you will find something that fits your needs and budget — especially if you’re okay with being flexible.

When looking for a place to purchase in the country, the good news is that you do not need to live in Sweden — nor are you required to have Swedish citizenship. You are free to purchase whatever kind of house you want, as long as you can afford it.

Moreover, you can get a mortgage without living in Sweden.

Before you move to Sweden, you should look at the benefits and drawbacks of living here. We’ve written a full guide to help you out in that respect.

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