Swedes Snapping Up Apartments for Tightest Supply Since 2008

Sweden’s supply of apartments for sale fell to the lowest in at least five years as the pace of transactions accelerates, according to the Hemnet website.

There were 6,613 apartments available for sale on Hemnet, the country’s biggest property website, in the second week of January, the lowest since it started compiling data in 2008. The 11,281 single-family houses for sale in the period, one of the year’s busiest, was the least since 2011, Hemnet’s data showed.

Low interest rates and a shortage of properties have pushed prices and household debt levels to record highs in cities such as Stockholm and Gothenburg. Values rose last year even after the government and the financial regulator introduced a raft of measures to try to cool the market.

“The turnover is high and properties are sold fast, which means that there is no build-up,” Hemnet spokesman Staffan Tell said by phone. Prices last year reached a record, he said.

Swedish household debt stands at 173 percent of disposable income, leaving the Nordic region’s largest economy vulnerable to shocks. Institutions including the central bank have said the level must be kept below 180 percent.

Apartment prices jumped 11 percent in the 12 months through November and single-family houses rose 4 percent, according to Svensk Maeklarstatistik, which publishes monthly data on Swedish property prices.

Quick Sales

Pasha Sabouri, chairman of Swedish real estate agent association FMF, agreed with Hemnet that supply is tight because homes in cities such as Stockholm and Gothenburg are being bought as soon as they’re advertised.

“A lot of objects are sold immediately, which is what’s pushing prices up,” he said. “Another reason for the small amount of homes for sale is that there were no unsold homes from the fall that reappeared after Christmas because the market has been so good.”

Swedish real estate brokers typically start advertising homes before Christmas that they plan to show buyers in the first weeks of January, Sabouri said. Notar, the firm he heads, started receiving calls from buyers as soon as the properties appeared on the Internet in December. As a result, about 20 percent of the homes the company had planned to show to buyers in January were already sold before the month began, something Sabouri said he’s never seen before.

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