'Like shopping on eBay': Norway's house bidding process explained
Stressful, expensive and competitive are just some of the words house hunters have used to describe their experience of bidding on a place in Norway to The Local. Here's what you need to know about putting in an offer on your dream home.
A lot of planning goes into buying a home. First, you must ensure your finances are in order, and then you will likely attend dozens of viewings and browse Finn.no (Norway's most popular website for property listings) until you start dreaming in numbers.
In Norway, the process is further complicated by the house bidding process, which you will have to go through when buying most properties today.
"Bidding on a house is exactly that. You bid on a house you want to buy", Trine Dahl-Pettersen, a real estate agent with Eiendomsmegler 1 tells The Local.
The key rules
Before entering your first house bid, there are some essential rules to keep in mind. Firstly, you need to talk to your bank about your plans so they can confirm financing when your estate agent calls about your bid.
Then you should make a plan for how much you are willing to pay for the house you are viewing and ensure you have a Norwegian Bank ID available, as it is needed to confirm your identity when sending your bids.
Secondly, you need to familiarise yourself with the bidding process and ensure you are available on the day it happens if someone else tries to outbid you. Usually the bidding rounds begin at noon the day after the final viewing.
But lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you need to be aware that all bids in Norway are legally binding once made.
"In essence, you can risk being obliged to buy two properties if you bid on more than one at a time, should the sellers accept your offer. Essentially there is no opportunity to back out once you commit," Dahl-Pettersen explains.
'Kupping' and acquiring your dream home
With the current housing market, you should expect that all second hand homes on the market will go through the bidding process when sold unless someone attempts to buy directly from the seller, which is known as ‘kupping’.
Rita from Portugal and her husband, also Portuguese, bought their first Norwegian home this year, and attempted 'kupping' by making an offer directly to the seller to avoid the stress of bidding and the potential disappointment of losing the house.
However, offers made direct to the owner are not guaranteed to be accepted.
"For the seller, we seldom recommend accepting a bid before having a viewing on the house, as they then don't get to test the market. If someone is willing to buy a property at a good price before others have viewed it, the chances are high that others will be interested too," Dahl-Pettersen tells The Local.
That is what happened to Rita and her husband.
"As we knew the bidding process would be stressful and we might lose the house, we tried to negotiate with the seller during the viewing, but they decided they wanted to go through the bidding process as others had shown interest too. So that was our first hint that bidding would be stressful", she explains.
After 32 bidding rounds, the seller eventually accepted their offer, but at 17 per cent above the asking price.
"The bidding ended up being just as stressful as I had imagined," Rita says.
'Like shopping on eBay'
For many foreigners who move to Norway, the house bidding process can feel daunting, as Sue from the UK quickly learned when she bought a flat in Oslo.
"The bidding process was so weird for us, and it felt odd making such a big decision based on one short viewing. It felt more like bidding on eBay than buying a flat," she tells The Local.
"It can be really easy to get carried away, and the day you bid is quite scary as everything happens via text message," she explains.
Her experience is shared by Scott, who bought his first home in Bergen earlier this year.
"Finding a property that won't go sky high over the asking price when bidding can be challenging", he tells The Local.
"I quickly noticed that Norwegians are not afraid to bid high for a ready-to-go home."
However, after doing some research, Scott realised he could get a better deal if he was willing to renovate the home himself.
"If you are comfortable doing some work on it, you can find a much better deal, maybe even under the asking price," he says.
Record-high prices squeezing first time buyers out of the market
But it is not just foreigners who find the house bidding process in Norway stressful. Locals can struggle with it too.
Also, it is increasingly difficult for many first-time buyers to get on the property ladder, as 27-year-old Norwegian Kine experienced when house hunting with her boyfriend in Oslo.
"We have been to house viewings on and off for about eight months now. We went every weekend during the winter and spring," she tells The Local.
"There are many homes we like, but too many bidders push the prices through the roof. Therefore, there are few homes on the market right now within our bidding range," she explains.
Earlier this year, Norwegian property prices have hit an all-time high, according to Eindom Norge (Real Estate Norway). At the end of April this year, Norwegian properties sold for 4.4 million kroner on average.
The real estate firm said that house prices rose by 7,6 per cent during the first quarter of 2022, and the average Norwegian home increased in value by 530,000 kroner.
Rising house prices have meant that Kine and her partner have delayed buying their first home.
"We have decided to be patient and hope that the housing market stabilises itself closer to summer," she says.
"In practical terms, I think the bidding process works well in Norway, but with many interested buyers pushing up the prices, it is not uncommon to withdraw from the process due to being outbid," she adds.