Buying a House: The Hunt Starts Here

Buying a house in Norway

After more than four years living in Norway the time has finally come. We are buying a house!

Well, starting the process at least.

Last week we took a trip to the bank to enquire about a mortgage. Given that we are two foreign citizens, Gerry is here on a work permit and not yet with permanent residence, and I work freelance, we were both a little nervous as to how our circumstances would be viewed. But within a few minutes of entering the room, our advisor told us “your economy is very good!”

In Norway, a kind of “pre-authorisation” letter is needed from a bank before you can enter into the bidding process on a property. It simply states how much the bank is prepared to lend you based on your circumstances, and you are allowed to bid up to that amount.

The bidding process itself is quite different from how it works in England, although as I understand it Scotland works in a similar way. I'll write more about this process as and when we get there!

A green wooden house in Trondheim, Norway

So as it turns out, the limiting factor on our mortgage is not our income or our circumstances, but the amount of savings we have. In Norway, you generally require 25% of the purchase price as a deposit. For first time buyers under the age of 34, that drops to 15%. Thankfully, we still fall into the latter category, which means our deposit goes further.

Put simply, we have been given authorisation to bid up to a certain amount on a property. That budget is enough to get what we want (just), although we were told very directly that the budget will go up substantially if we can come up with a bigger deposit.

(Important note: this is based on our personal circumstances – for other people their income could be the limiting factor)

So, what are we looking for? Some must-haves:

A second bedroom

This is an absolute must. Our flat at the moment is perfect for a single person or a couple with few possessions and guests. As we semi-regularly welcome family and friends from abroad, it's becoming more and more of a tight squeeze. Although we have a very comfortable sofa-bed in the lounge, it's a tight squeeze and there isn't much privacy when guests stay. It would be alright for a night or two, but given our guests are here for at least a week, it's not a good long-term solution.

A dual function for a second (or third!) bedroom would be as an office. I currently work at DIGS but on the occasions I don't need or want to go into town, I work at home. At the moment, this is uncomfortable so a proper office setup would be a big bonus.

A bigger kitchen

At the moment our kitchen is little more than the corner of our lounge. I'm constantly knocking into our rickety shelves and dropping pots and pans. We don't help ourselves by owning two coffee machines, but overall we simply need more space!

A deck, balcony or easy access to a garden

Having outside space, even a tiny one, is something we've grown to value really highly, even though Norwegian summers aren't exactly long!

The viewing process

So now it's on to the visning (viewing) process. In Norway appointments for house viewings are not made individually. Communal showings are arranged and typically this means that you must evaluate a house while it's packed with other potential buyers.

We're planning to attend one in the coming weeks to check out the process in a bit more detail, so we're comfortable with how it works when we find somewhere we are actually interested in.

Update: Read about the next step of the process: ownership options and the viewing process.

Photo credit: Dario-Jacopo Lagana'

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.

8 Comments

  1. Hi mam/sir
    Myself Jaswinder pal singh frm India. I am a hair stylist and makeup artist. In future I want live in Norway with my family ( my wife and two kids). My qualification is 10+2 now. I need some help that how can I imigrant in Norway for work. And after how much time I can bring my family with me… I read ur weekly newletter evry teusday. Its Interesting and I m growing my knowledge abt Norway with ur newsletter… . I m expecting that u will tell me about my question…. Pls tell me something abt this… I will wait for ur rply

    1. Hi, thanks for reading, I’m pleased to hear you find the newsletter useful. Please click on “Expat Essentials” at the top of the page for a guide to immigration.

  2. Hello!!

    Can you share where the listings are? I’ve tried online to find a realty that is selling but everything is in Norwegian. Or, will that be the issue?

  3. I bought with my Norwegian wife four years ago. The process is quite odd if you’re used to the England and Wales set up and there’s a few tips that I’d share:-

    – Read the Prospect, and especially the takst report thoroughly – this is your survey.
    – Check out the costs. If you’re buying an apartment there’ll be the felleskost, for a house there may be costs for a festtomt, or for the road if it’s private (brøiting, etc)
    – Speak to the seller at the viewing, ask about the neighbourhood, work done on the house and so on. Here it helps to have gone through the Egenerklæring in detail and see if there’s any work been done, any leaks, settling issues and so on,
    – Before the bid round starts set yourself a top end and stick with it. As it’s an auction it’s OK to start lower as there will be rounds of bids until it closes. The megler wants to push the price up, so it’s OK to take a pause and call back if you need time to think/discuss.
    – If you’ve had a hint from the seller that they have other considerations such as wanting to move quickly then they may accept a lower bid from someone that can take over faster. There’s no obligation to take the highest bid.
    – Some properties have a forkjøpsrett, that is someone has the right to buy the property if they can match the bid. This is especially true of borettslag where people may have a low membership number and can step round the queue.

    Good luck with it

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