After three years of saving money tons of money every month, the Viking and I recently got enough aside to buy an apartment, and that’s freaking great because we lived in a less than 30 sqm studio with two cats for those three years. So we’re happy and all as we moved ten days ago and enjoying a great « big » quiet place for once.
But oh boy, the process is something! Not as painful as in France where things take sooooooo long and papers are so complicated, but it was my first at all that, especially in a country where I can’t understand all the papers I had to sign. I will explain it to you here, as I feel it’s worth knowing.
First, it is important to know that you need at least 15% of the property price in savings. For an apartment of let say 2 million NOK, it means having 300.000 NOK aside, or around 30.000 euros. It’s not nothing, but if you are careful it is doable. Of course, most Norwegians have a huge advantage, which is that their family sets up a saving account dedicated to buying a property when they are very young. The family members can add money little by little and the account holder can ask his bank for the option of transferring automatically a certain pourcentage of salary every month. But as a foreigner, I had to do it the old fashioned way and save. So worth it, though!
Once you feel you have enough for a place fitting your budget, you call your bank to ask for a « proof of financing » about a certain amount, which means the bank deems you able to pay the loan, pay for the rest of your life (their budget for us was honestly way above what we actually spend every month) and afford a rise on the loan or difficulties along the way. They’re very serious about it, and it’s quite comforting. For example, we had asked almost a year and because we had less money saved and barely worked because of the pandemic, the bank asked us to wait for better times. So we did, and it worked! We also had to ask until how much we could bid over the money already authorized by the bank, that part is pretty important.
So then you can visit the apartment you set your eyes on, which is usually one or two hours in the evening when people can come and see, but like just one day and that’s it. You have to be available for it. Luckily we did, and we had to consider if we wanted to bid on it pretty early on, like the « bidding war » starts right after the visit time and usually closes the next day at noon, except if people add a bidding last minute, then it can pretty much go on for hours. By bidding, I mean that you give an offer on the place, and other people can give a better price to make sure they get it.
Luckily for us, the bidding war was quite reasonable and although we were overbid early on, we used a clause we didn’t know about and that is the « right of purchase » from a housing association called BOB whose the Viking is a member of. It was set at the price of the last bet and we then had to wait for a week to know the final answer. If someone with a longer membership than the Viking had used his or her right of purchase, it would have gone to this person! The stress was quite intense.
Once we were told we could go on with the purchase, we got sent a ton of papers to sign online and a ton of papers. Like one part describing the history of the apartment, the building and the rest of the neighborhood, and another the rules decided by the building’s owners association as well as the contacts needed if we wanted to make any change. It was surprising to me, but I guess it makes sense. Anyway, I let the Viking read all that and tell me the most important parts, because it all comes in Norwegian, of course.
After all that signing, the bank takes away your « capital » and sets up an account where your monthly payments, both the loan and building’s « rent », will be taken from. From then on, it hurts a bit to see all that money fly away and estimate how much more you’ll spend each month for the new place, but the exciting part comes when you eventually get the keys! It was quite fast for us and we could move in after our Christmas holidays in France. Of course, it involved a lot of cardboard boxes, car trips with family helping us, and trips to Ikea, which was quite hell but we survived.
All in all, I would say that our transition was quite smooth and easy compared to what I thought it would be, but I was lucky that the Viking handled more of the administrative part as it would have been hard for me to understand. No one really explains to you anything, it’s like you’re supposed to know already! That’s why I thought this « guide » could be helpful for others.