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READERS REVEAL: Five tricks for winning the apartment hunt in Sweden

The best tips always come from those who've been there, done that. The Local's readers share their top tactics for successfully finding, viewing and buying your first apartment in Sweden.

READERS REVEAL: Five tricks for winning the apartment hunt in Sweden
Have you ever bought an apartment via text message? In Sweden, that's the bidding process for you. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

If you can skip the queue, skip the queue

The standard procedure for buying an apartment in Sweden is to spend hours on property listings site Hemnet, go to numerous viewings, and be outbid by other buyers in consecutive bidding wars, until you finally manage to get your hands on a new home.

But many properties get sold even before they are put up for a public viewing.

“Try to avoid the nail-biting bidding war altogether. You do this by being proactive and arranging a private viewing of the apartment with the mäklare (estate agent) as soon as the apartment comes onto the open market. Sign up for email alerts from Hemnet. Then if you really like the place, make a good offer based on a current valuation (Booli is a very good site for this and you can even check what the seller originally paid for their apartment) and then ask for the property to be taken off the market. You’ll have to sign an agreement to buy it almost immediately,” says Krystian Bellière, a Briton in Stockholm.

It’s also worth trying to establish a good rapport with the estate agent.

“If you lose the bidding for a place in an area you really like, you can let the agent know that you are very interested in the area and would like to be informed if a similar place becomes available. If you show genuine interest (genuine being the operative word here), the agent might arrange a pre-showing and could even lead to a deal with the seller without having to go through another bidding process,” says Ravi Senevirathne, who also lives in Stockholm.

Practice makes perfect

Get to grips with the process before you delve in head first. Read up on how viewings, bidding and signing contracts works in Sweden – you may even want to go to a few viewings even before you’re ready to buy anything, just to get accustomed to it and get a sense of what’s out there.

“Check Hemnet regularly to check similar houses that match your priorities for at least a month before you go out for viewings,” says Tamalika, an Indian in Helsingborg.

“Look around, visit as many apartments as you can, don’t settle too fast. Look for the reputation of the area too,” says Sandra from Indonesia, who lives in Gothenburg.

“Visit at least a couple of viewings casually before you get serious and most importantly don’t set your heart on one particular apartment even if it looks like your dream home. Follow a standard set of requirements that you have, for example ‘I need a 2:a [a two-room apartment] with a balcony that is 30 minutes from my workplace’. Just try to follow these requirements and be willing to compromise on a few of them,” says Ankit, who is from India and is based in Nacka, a Stockholm suburb.

Know your priorities – and your limits

On that last note above, it’s a good idea to decide in advance what you’re looking for, so you don’t fall head over heels with an apartment that doesn’t actually tick your essential boxes. Similarly, set a budget before you start bidding – it’s easy to get swept up in a fast process that takes place over text message and forget that you’re dealing with, well, real money.

“A lot of times, you’ll look at places with an asking price at the top of your budget but the final price will be out of your price range. To avoid disappointment, start lower with the expectation it’ll rise during bidding,” advises Sheena, an American in Stockholm.

“Don’t get into the emotional roller coaster of bidding on an apartment you are hesitant about. Find a place you actually want to buy, then contact the agent about the seller’s intentions, if they need to sell quickly and would accept a private offer, or if they expect a certain amount for the bidding,” suggests Vincent from Australia. “Avoid committing to bidding if you are hesitant. It is not worth it and even if you win the bid you may have reservations about signing the contract.”

Beware of hidden costs

If you’re buying an apartment in Sweden, it will likely be part of a bostadsrättsförening (BRF). This is the housing association that’s in charge of running the property, usually one or several blocks of apartments or rows of houses. Technically, you’re not actually buying the apartment itself – you’re buying the right to live in the property.

Each month, as well as your mortgage, you’ll pay fees to the BRF, which often cover maintenance of common areas like staircases, laundry room and plumbing. Check exactly what the monthly fee covers – it often includes water, heating, electricity and internet, but not always, and this could affect your total living costs in the future.

It is also worth looking into the finances of the BRF. If it has high debts, this leaves it vulnerable to fluctuations in the economy, which could force it to raise your monthly fee. The website Alla BRF offers information about each BRF and gives them a grade.

Do your research

Apart from trying to sell the property at as high a price as possible, the estate agent is meant to be impartial and protect both the seller’s and buyer’s interests. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do as much of your own research as possible. Check the surroundings to get a feel for the area, and make sure that the agent’s claims about things such as the BRF’s finances, the internet speed and so on actually hold up.

Remember not to rush things. If you want a second look at the apartment before moving in (or if you want to get a professional to do it for you), it is usually perfectly acceptable to ask for an inspection clause that lets you back out if any nasty faults are uncovered.

“Check every single piece of information regarding the apartment. Don’t get into buyer’s remorse. Do check the apartment before the stipulated handover well in advance. If you don’t understand Swedish or any legal things, don’t hesitate to get professional help. Sometimes, the bank could help you with lawyers,” says Shamik, an Indian who lives in Malmö.

“Do not fall into ‘apartment buying madness’ due to peer pressure and rush through the process. Don’t believe the broker’s words on the asking price of the apartment. Always research and match the price with the market price for apartments in that locality. Then you can know the so-to-say ‘base price’. After viewing and checking the apartment, you have the chance to evaluate if the asking price is fair and can decide,” says Stockholm-based Chaitanya, also from India.

Thanks to everyone who responded to our survey, including those whose responses we could not include here. We edited some responses for grammar and clarity. If you have a question about life in Sweden or a story you’d like to share, contact our editorial team at [email protected]

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For members


Seven gorgeous Swedish holiday homes for less than a million kronor

Fancy owning a beautiful red wooden cottage in Sweden for the same price as a shed in London or New York? It's the best time in years for foreigners to buy property in the Nordic nation, thanks to the weak krona.

Seven gorgeous Swedish holiday homes for less than a million kronor

With its chilly winter climate, famously expensive restaurants and unfamiliar language, Sweden might not seem like the obvious place to move to or buy a holiday home in. But if you’re paying in foreign currency, now may be the time to buy.

Swedish properties offer owners the chance to enjoy some of Scandinavia’s most pristine lakes and deep green forests alongside historic towns and villages. Plus Sweden has longer days and more sunlight than much of Europe during the summer months, when temperatures can regularly climb to 25 degrees in the south.

In general, Swedes look for holiday homes closer to the coast and nearer to major cities, so prices are much lower inland near smaller towns. Central Skåne is a good bet for warmer weather and easy access from the rest of Europe, but if you want really cheap prices you should head further north.

Here is an entirely impartial selection of properties costing less than a million kronor (at the time of publication: €90,084, $96,691, £79,023).

Andåsen 152, Härjedalens municipality

This red wooden summer house in Härjedalen, northern Sweden complete with its own sauna is a steal at just 450,000 kronor (€40,380). Although the property ad states that it only has two rooms, you’ll actually have access to two wooden cottages.

The first has one bedroom, as well as an open plan kitchen/living area with a woodburner and an open fireplace, and the second has a large reception room with windows in three directions as well as your very own woodburning sauna.

If that wasn’t enough, you’ll also have access to a guest cottage with space for up to four people to sleep.

The cottages are located by Andåssjön lake, on a small hill surrounded by forest and ten minutes away from a sandy beach with a bathing spot and space for you to put your boat.

Andåsen lies a half an hour drive from Härjedalen-Sveg airport which has direct connections to Stockholm’s Arlanda airport. Why not spend a few days in the Swedish capital before heading out into nature for the summer?

Sandy beaches on Seskarö in northern Sweden. Photo: Simon Eliasson/TT

Seskarö, Haparanda

This one-story three bedroom house on the market for 850,000 kronor (€76,615) is suitable as a summer house or permanent residence. The house lies on the island of Seskarö, 24 kilometres southwest of Haparanda in northern Sweden.

Just a stone’s throw from the beach, this summer house provides easy access to swimming and fishing spots, as well as a number of restaurants on the island.

Although it comes into its element in the summer – there’s a garden with enough space for growing vegetables – this house also has a cosy open fireplace and a sauna to keep you warm during the winter.

Seskarö is around an hour and a half by car from Luleå, which has direct flights to Stockholm.

Hultsfred, Småland

This four-bedroom house in the small town of Hultsfred in Småland could be yours for 795,000 kronor (€71,357). Hultsfred is a popular town during the summer with nearby lakes providing great opportunities for swimming and walking, with Knästorp nature reserve on your doorstep.

The house, located in central Hultsfred, has recently been renovated with a modern kitchen and two bathrooms perfect for a large family. It’s not classified as a summer house, which means you’d be able to live here all year round if you wanted.

It takes around two hours to reach Hultsfred via train from Linköping, which has direct flights to all major Swedish airports, as well as Toulouse and Amsterdam.

Småland is known for its lakes and forests. Photo: August Dellert/

Yxenhaga, Småland

These red cottages situated in the summer house resort of Yxenhaga in Småland are surrounded by nature, with forests and lakes within walking distance. The cottages are now on sale, with a mix of one bedroom, two bedroom and studio cottages on offer. Prices range from 725,000 kronor (€65,160) for a one bedroom cottage to 1,050,000 kronor (€94,370) if you want to buy a one-bed and studio cottage together.

Despite their location on a summer resort, these cottages are classed as all-year residencies, meaning you can stay in them whenever you like – even full time, if you wanted.

These cottages are very family friendly with playgrounds on the resort site, and there are many activities on offer in the surrounding area, such as canoeing, fishing, swimming, ball games and even a sauna with a view of the water.

Jönköping is the closest town, with the bus from nearby Kinnebro – a fifteen minute cycle ride away – taking around 40 minutes.

The closest major international airport is in Gothenburg, which can be reached in two hours by car or three and a half hours by public transport.

Vittsjö, Skåne

This charming two-bedroom torp cottage, priced at 795,000 kronor (€71,357) and built in 1915, is situated 6.5 kilometres outside the Scanian town of Vittsjö with a view over forests, fields and meadows. It takes around 10 minutes to walk down to Öresjön lake for a swim.

The Skåneleden bike route runs through Vittsjö, making this a great option for cycle enthusiasts. Photo: Apelöga/

Despite its location out in the countryside, it takes under two hours to get to Vittsjö from Copenhagen Airport via train through Hässleholm, making this a great choice for a summer house if you live in the rest of Europe and would like to be able to get here in under a day.

Slite, Gotland

This little summer house in Slite on the island of Gotland has one room and a kitchenette, as well as a little veranda with a view of the sea. It’s on the market for 950,000 kronor (€85,450), and can be rented out to earn some money when you’re not using it.

Just a stone’s throw away from Gotland’s only archipelago, this is the perfect summer house if you like spending time on the water, with daily boat tours available to book during summer.

There are a number of activities on offer within walking distance, such as a tennis court, sports hall, ice skating rink, mountaine bike routes and walking trails. You can also rent kayaks and bikes in the resort.

The association also offers a floating sauna which can be rented for 50 kronor.

There is a direct bus from Slite to Visby, which takes one hour, and direct flights from Visby airport to Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Norrköping airports.

Fårösund, Gotland

A timeshare in this tip-top summer house in Northern Gotland, where you would be able to stay for five weeks a year, is currently on the market for 450,000 kronor (€40,495).

This house has three bedrooms, one bathroom and a guest toilet, as well as a smaller building for guests. It also has ample outside space with two gardens, a sheltered inner courtyard and a patio with sea views.

Fårö island off the coast of northern Gotland. Photo: Simon Paulin/

The house is by Kronhaga beach in Fårösund, a small town with restaurants, shops, cafes and other amenities. Suitable for relaxation or active holidays, there are walking trails, tennis and padel courts nearby, as well as Fårö island – the home of late Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman – which can be reached by an eight-minute ferry ride.

Fårösund is an hour and a half away from Visby by direct bus, or just under an hour by car.