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Home buyers in rural Denmark could benefit from government finance plan

The Danish government on Friday published a proposal for a new law which could ease the path for house buyers in rural areas.

The government wants to make it easier to get a mortgage in rural areas, but lenders say they do not base loans on location.
The government wants to make it easier to get a mortgage in rural areas, but lenders say they do not base loans on location. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The proposal, which would need backing in parliament, could give buyers the option of loaning 30 percent of the value of their home from the state.

“We in the government have long worked to find the right model for supporting Danes who want to live outside of cities so they can finance purchasing their homes,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told Avisen Danmark.

“I’ve met many people on trips around the country who have told me how they can’t get a loan for their dream home because it is located in the wrong area code,” she added.

Specifically, the government plans to table a bill in which the state will underwrite the majority of a mortgage which constitutes between 60 and 90 percent of the property’s value for privately owned housing.

A criteria for the scheme will be that the property must have a value of under 8,000 kroner per squre kilometre or must be located in an area code in which the average value of property is below this level.

Finans Danmark, the interest organisation for Danish banks and credit institutions, said it did not see a trend of mortgages in rural areas being rejected based on location.

“It’s absolutely the exception that a ‘no’ will be given to a mortgage, and that applies both in cities and in the countryside,” Finans Danmark’s deputy CEO Ane Arnth Jensen said.

“When the answer is ‘no’, it is mostly because of a lack of funding in the family and there will therefore still be some Danes who get a ‘no’ to a loan,” Jensen added.

A total of 16,396 mortgages were given for purchase of homes in rural areas in Denmark in 2020, according to the organisation. That is an eight percent increase compared to 2019.

READ ALSO: The challenges of buying a home in Denmark as a foreigner

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PROPERTY

What do foreigners need to know about buying a home in Denmark?

After several years of settling down in Denmark, it’s natural for foreign residents to think about buying a home. What’s worth knowing about getting on the property ladder as a non-Dane?

What do foreigners need to know about buying a home in Denmark?

For some foreign home buyers in Denmark, their first Danish home might not be the first home they have bought, and there will be a few differences in rules to take into account.

For others, Denmark might be the place where you take your first step onto the property ladder.

In either case, there are several rules and facets of the Danish housing market that are worth knowing when you set out.

I have savings, am a permanent resident in Denmark and want to buy a home. What should I do?

Unsurprisingly, the first step is to get approved for a mortgage or, in Danish kreditgodkendt.

“Then the thing to do is go down to a bank and get a købsbevis [mortgage certificate, ed.],” Mikkel Høegh, department director for real estate economics with Jyske Bank, told The Local via email.

“Here you will have a meeting at which you are pre-approved to buy a property up to a certain amount,” Høegh said.

The meeting, which takes place with an advisor from the bank, involves setting out a budget and looking at the applicant’s tax information to get an overview of their personal finances.

“Once you have been (approved) you can start house hunting,” he said.

The certificate is based on a calculation of “what amount you are in a position to buy a property for,” Lise Nytoft Bergmann, real estate economist and senior analyst with bank Nordea, told The Local.

House hunting can initially be done online, while buyers should talk with their families about how the see their future home, Bergmann advised.

“Whether it’s location that’s given highest priority, or the number of square metres, how modern a property… have these thorough conversations with the family about what you see as most important,” she said.

Are there any rules relating to buying a home that apply specifically to foreign nationals?

“There are no special rules for foreigners as such,” Høegh said.

Danish mortgages are based on the prices of the house being purchases, and buyers are approved to buy for that amount, he explained.

“The next step is then to find the property. When it’s been found, the property is what guarantees the loan. This means that the mortgage lender has a guarantee in the property. So it’s the property that is most important here,” he said.

“The buyer must pay at least 5 percent (of the price of the house) upfront,” he noted.

What if there’s a chance I might move back home (or somewhere else) in future? Should I still buy a house in Denmark?

“There some overheads which are connected to buying a house,” Bergmann said.

“They’re not entirely small, and so therefore it’s an advantage to spread these costs out over as many years as possible,” she said.

These include a registration fee which must be paid to the state of 1,750 kroner plus 0.6 percent of the purchasing price; and registration of the mortgage deed (pantebreve) of 1,730 kroner plus 1.45 percent of the purchase price.

Banks and mortgage lenders must usually also be paid for their work related to the purchase. This can include assessing the buyer for the mortgage certificate and for issuing it, valuing the property, and producing documentation as well as for consultancy. These costs can vary between financial institutions.

It may also be necessary to take advice from third parties such as lawyers, architects or electricians. The costs of actually moving, insurance and renovation must also be considered.

“We usually that you should have a timescale of a minimum of five years, and preferably longer,” Bergmann said in relation to staying in Denmark after buying a home.

What can I do to make sure I get the best mortgage offer?

“In Denmark the prices of mortgages are relatively similar and there is no difference between people and the price they are offered,” Høegh said.

“As such, what is important is finding a property that can be turned over, in other words you should keep in mind that another buyer must come after you,” he said.

“In addition to this, the price of the mortgage is related to how much of the loan is in the property. The more money you bring yourself [through the deposit, ed.], the cheaper it is to loan,” he said.

Both fixed and variable interest rate mortgages are available in Denmark, and the terms for these may stand out from what is available in other countries.

“A quite unique thing in Denmark is that you can get a fixed interest rate mortgage for 30 years. There are very few places in the world where you can do that, so when we say fixed rate we don’t just mean five or eight years,” Høegh said.

“Additionally, a mortgage in Denmark is such that the borrower can always go to market interest, so there is also nothing like a penalty interest which you see in other countries,” he said.

“Denmark has therefore an incredibly efficient mortgage system which everyone who buys a property has access to,” he said.

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