The unique housing market in Gothenburg and Sweden

​Since I moved to Sweden almost two years ago, I noticed that the housing market is very unique. I’ll tell you how the housing market looks like here from my perspective, meaning, I am not an expert. 
Audio Description: Picture of Waiting time to get first hand contracts in Gothenburg Source: Boplats​
Picture: Waiting time to get first hand contracts in Gothenburg Source: Boplats

There is a housing shortage, with more demand than offer of apartments, especially in the biggest cities. It is quite hard to get a first hand rental contract. As swedes love to queue, to get a first hand rental contract, one also must queue (in Boplats), and it can take years for you to get a first hand contract in some specific areas of Gothenburg, for example. I have a friend who lives in Stockholm that she has a 2 years old daughter and she has just put her daughter in the queue system so she can rent a nice apartment when she turns 18. The time to get a first hand contract there is even longer, and apparently many people do that. I think this is very odd. 

In the picture in the top of this post you can see in orange the number of days one must be registered at Boplats in order to get a contract in each district of Gothenburg. In the city center, for example, it will take around 2293 days (more than 6 years!)

For those who study at Chalmers and Gothenburg University, there are other options such as SGS Studentbostäder and Chalmers Studentbostäder. SGS, for instance, is an non-profit organization founded by the city and the Union of Students of Gothenburg to offer rooms and apartments for only students of both universities. They own around 7000 rooms all over the city and have a great rotativity, since a student can rent the room ONLY when studying. Also, the fee-paying international students admitted to Chalmers have a guaranteed spot at one of the SGS rooms or apartments, during all their studies here, which is great! I lived in one of SGS’s and this is how it looks like.

Audio Description: Picture of an apartment

One good aspect is that we all these rules and regulations to buy or to get a first hand contract, is that the prices are very well regulated, meaning, one cannot decided to rent out or sell one’s property for a crazy price based on nothing, it must follow the rules. 

Then, since it is difficult to get a first hand rental contract, many newcomers get a second hand contract, which are then subject to higher prices, in many cases, since the person who owns the first hand contract can chose the price. This is what happens in many countries, where the prices are usually not well regulated. These second hand contracts are usually offered at Blocket or Facebook groups (beware the scams on these groups, they are everywhere, but they are also easy to spot. Most important rule: never transfer money to anyone without first seeing the apartment, and meeting that person.)

I also have noticed that one cannot own two properties, so if you buy a house or apartment, you can only own that property, and in order to buy another property, you must sell yours first. Probably there must be exceptions, but this is more or less how it is. Also, when one you buy a house, you pay first around 15% of it and the rest you get a loan from the bank, and the interest rate is very low. The bank will give you a loan or not, and decide on how much, depending on your wage on your work contract. And another interesting fact is that many swedes chose to pay only the interest rates, meaning, they are never paying for their property/loan itself, just the rates, and the property will never be 100% paid. Then, one day, you can sell it, you get back what you paid and pay your loans and find another place.

Text: Maria Julia Martins​

Page manager Published: Thu 25 Jun 2020.