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PROPERTY

7 key things to think about before you sell your home in Sweden

The property market tends to move fast in Sweden, but if you want to sell your house or apartment it's a good idea to prepare well in advance. These are seven things you should be considering if you want to make a sale.

7 key things to think about before you sell your home in Sweden
How can you maximise the value of your property before selling? File photo: cottonbro/Pexels

Timing

Should you sell your home before or after you've bought somewhere new to live? There are pros and cons to both approaches, and it depends on your own personal and financial situation.

If you sell first, you know exactly how much money you've got to put towards your new home, but you might find yourself rushing to find your new place. Banks will usually tell you that selling first is safer. If you buy first, you may need to use a bridging loan and might feel rushed to sell.

You should also think about timing in terms of both seasonal variations in the housing market and the wider economic situation, although try not to get too worried about this – if you need to move, it is not always possible or sensible to wait for the optimum time. Summer and Christmas are slower seasons for property sales due to holidays, but that can also mean less competition.  

It is hard to know how the economy and house prices will change in future, but if you know you will be selling a property before too long, it is smart to start following the news. This way you will know if any laws are set to come in that make it more expensive to sell, for example, and can follow expert predictions of how prices will develop. Just be aware that even the professionals won't always know for sure! 

Coronavirus concerns?

At the moment it's impossible to say how the coronavirus crisis will affect the Swedish economy and housing market. As of July, no major changes to the buying or selling process have been made in Sweden, but the market has still been affected. Expert estimates have predicted that in a worst-case scenario, property prices may drop as much as 12 percent but at the moment this has not happened.

Because of the increased uncertainty, you might want to think extra carefully about any gap between selling and buying – it's possible the market could change significantly.


Photo: Erik Johansen/NTB scanpix/TT

Valuation

You can do your own research on property values by using sites like Hemnet and Booli to find out how much similar properties have sold for recently. Bear in mind that factors like which floor an apartment is on, what condition it is in, layout, and extra bonuses like a spectacular view or laundry room in the building can all change the overall price. It could be a good idea to follow some bidding processes on Hemnet, to start getting a feel for property values in your area.

Then, most estate agents will carry out a valuation with no obligation to pay for their services, so it is worth shopping around and comparing a few quotes.

Presumably you will be hoping to get the best price possible, so think about what you could do to increase the value. That could be something small, like leaving the home in great condition before taking photos for the ad, or it could be a big step, like carrying out some renovations to make it more attractive to buyers.

Fixing up small flaws is usually worth it, and newly renovated apartments tend to fetch the highest prices, but will it be worth the cost and hassle to you? These are questions that you probably want to talk through with an expert, which brings us to…

Choosing an estate agent

There's no legal obligation to hire an estate agent, and you can take care of the selling yourself to avoid the extra cost, but it is by far the most common way to proceed in Sweden. Websites like HittaMäklare.com (linked to the bank SBAB, and only available in Swedish) or MäklarOfferter (also only available in Swedish) allow you to compare fees and customer satisfaction ratings.


Your estate agent will be representing your property, so you need to be confident in them. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

You can meet a few different estate agents to get a feel for who you would like to work with. If you are following bidding on similar apartments, make sure to keep track of different estate agents – how do they present the properties, and how successful do they seem to be? 

You will also need to look into the fee, which is usually mostly based on a commission rather than a fixed fee. When you speak to estate agents, ask about the fees, how they carry out market research and what they would value your property at, and how they manage viewings and bidding processes. 

Know your property

When you prepare for the viewing, you need to present prospective buyers with as much information as possible about the apartment. Things like extra storage, shared facilities, and recent renovations could all help you bump up the price so make sure your estate agent knows about them.

Think about questions a prospective buyer might have, and help your estate agent prepare to answer them. Perhaps the property has some especially charming features you would like them to highlight, or the area has a popular restaurant. You want the viewers to be able to imagine themselves living here.

It is also important to be honest about any problems. You can be held liable if you give incorrect information to the buyer, and may even need to pay damages in future, so it is very important that you give the correct facts, including any known flaws. If you are selling a house that is not part of a housing association, you generally get a full survey done to help with this. 


Photo: Fredrik Persson/Scanpix

Know your red lines

As you may remember from buying your property, the Swedish housing market moves fast and sales can be concluded within a matter of days. As the seller, you need to make sure you have set your own goals so that you will be able to work with prospective buyers and avoid slowing down the process at the crucial final stages.

Two of the most important things to think about are the lowest price you would be happy settling for, and any requirements you have about the move-in date. If you have already set a move-in date for your next home, you probably want to be out of your current apartment (and stop paying the mortgage) as soon as possible. If you are moving in with a partner, you may be able to be more flexible.

Viewings and bidding

By this point, your home is ready to go on the market.

There is a lot to think about, from the length and timing of the viewing, and whether you want open viewings (the most common, meaning anyone can attend) or only host viewings for individual interested buyers.

Hopefully, after the viewings someone will make an offer – perhaps at the listed price, or below it. If you live in a popular area, you may well receive multiple offers in which case a bidding process starts, or a buyer might make an offer above the starting price before the open viewings start in an attempt to take the property off the market.

It is a good idea to have thought about what you want to do in each of these scenarios beforehand so you do not have to make a decision in a hurry.

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PROPERTY

How do I prep my apartment for sale in Sweden?

Here's the first part of The Local's new property series from reporter Becky Waterton, who is currently going through the process of selling her apartment: how do I prep my property for sale?

How do I prep my apartment for sale in Sweden?

Choosing to sell your house or apartment is a big step – when is the best time to sell? What should the asking price be? How do I choose an estate agent?

You’ve done all that, so what’s next? It’s time to prepare yourself – and your apartment – for the upcoming move. But how do you make sure your apartment stands out?

Your estate agent will want to take photos of your apartment as soon as possible for property sites Hemnet and Booli, as well as their own website. However, this isn’t just a case of a photographer coming round to your apartment the next day – you will need to carefully style your apartment beyond recognition first.

Some estate agents offer a styling service as part of their fee (arvode). Some include it as an add-on, which can cost anywhere from 1,500 kronor to 5,000 depending on the estate agent. If you don’t fancy paying that amount, you may be able to get your estate agent to give you some tips on what to do, or you can do it yourself. Here’s a rough guide if you choose the latter route.

Light and airy

Swedes love light. Therefore, you want your apartment to look as light and airy as possible. Nothing on your kitchen or bathroom countertops is allowed to stay – apart from a small (expensive) bottle of hand soap.

The one exception to this rule appears to be if you have a colourful mixer – like a KitchenAid, or a bowl filled with a random selection of fruits and vegetables.

You should also, if possible, make sure photos of your property are taken in summertime (even if you’re not planning on selling for months). This is so your apartment is bright and sunny in photos, rather than dark and grey like the Swedish weather for most of the year.

If in doubt, get a plant. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

If you get kvällssol (evening sun), try to time the photos so they’re taken at the same time. If possible, time your flat viewings for a sunny evening, too, to show off the opportunities your apartment offers.

Avoid anything which could give away the date at which pictures were taken, though. If a keen-eyed potential buyer looking at your flat in October spots that your calendar is from July in your photos, it will just make them suspicious as to why your flat has been on the market for so long.

If possible, you want to get rid of as much furniture as possible without the room feeling empty. If that means getting rid of your work-from-home setup to dedicate half of your living room to a large monstera plant until the flat is sold, so be it. (I may be speaking from personal experience here.)

Spots of colour

Swedes love neutral colours. Most apartments have white walls, wooden floors, and furniture in varying shades of grey, white, brown or black. However, too many neutral colours together looks boring, so you need to break up the neutral palette with pictures, blankets, pillows and plants in varying colours.

For some reason, no one is allowed to see your bedding. I presume this is seen as incredibly private to Swedes, who will do everything they can not to intrude on your personal space (which admittedly, is quite difficult when they are touring your house full of all your personal belongings and deciding whether it’s nice enough for them to buy).

Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

This means that you need to put a throw on your bed, which goes all the way down to the floor. While you’re at it, scatter some colourful cushions on your bed, too, as the throw is probably white, like your walls, and you don’t want it to look boring.

If you have plants, use them. Put them on your bedside table, your windowsills, even in your bathroom (yes, this also applies if your bathroom has no windows, meaning the plants would die if left there for too long – it’s just for photos and flat viewings). 

Assume people have no imagination

It may seem obvious to you that people will be able to imagine themselves living in your apartment, but this doesn’t mean it is. You need to make your flat feel luxurious, even if it seems borderline ridiculous that you would ever have nothing but a bowl of lemons and a perfectly-dishevelled dishtowel on your kitchen countertops.

Similarly, if you live in one of Sweden’s big cities and are lucky enough to have a balcony, you must decorate it with some sort of attractive blanket (in, you guessed it, a neutral colour), a bowl of berries, a bottle of champagne and two glasses. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never used your balcony for anything other than storing drinks in winter, people must be shown the opportunities your balcony can bring. Swedes love to spend time in the open air, so show them that this is possible.

In a similar vein, if you have a garden, it must contain a barbecue. Barbecuing is a favourite Swedish pastime in summer, so show prospective buyers that yes, they can also have the pleasure of barbecuing in the garden, if they buy your property.

Get rid of everything which suggests someone lives there

Okay, almost everything. Leave nothing but a pair of shoes and two jackets on your clothes rack in the hallway. People need to be shown that someone lives there, in a way which is generic enough that they can imagine living there themselves.

Remove everything from your bathroom which isn’t attached to the wall. Don’t even show prospective buyers that you use soap.

Take down any family photos or photos of people. Privacy-focussed Swedes don’t want to be rudely reminded of the fact that someone actually lives in this apartment they are considering purchasing.

Oil, vinegar, salt and pepper are only allowed in your kitchen if they are expensive brands which you have never opened and bought specifically for photos. Your desk must have nothing but a computer on it.

Books are no longer for reading, they’re for putting plants on top of. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Your books are no longer for reading, they are decorative items. This means removing the vast majority and instead displaying them in a few carefully-composed piles on your bookshelves, preferably colour-coordinated.

Your coffee table is nothing but a surface on which to display a lit candle and a bunch of flowers. 

The one exception to this rule is your kitchen table. Cover it with a tablecloth, set out a couple of attractive mugs or champagne glasses, a candle and a bunch of flowers to make it look like you regularly have romantic candlelit dates in your kitchen. Like I said, it needs to feel luxurious.

By the end of this process, the goal is to make you feel like you live in an IKEA catalogue.

There’s a bonus, too. By the time you’re finished, so many of your personal belongings will be hidden away in boxes that it will take you half the time to pack when it’s finally time for you to move house.

One final tip…

If you’re not sure how to style your apartment, have a look at what others have done. Look at estate agents’ websites, as well as Hemnet and Booli for inspiration.

And if you want some ideas on what not to do, have a look at Instagram account @hemnetknarkarna for a collection of some of Sweden’s weirdest property ads.

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