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Should you buy now if you're looking for a property in Denmark?

Emma Firth
Emma Firth - [email protected]
Should you buy now if you're looking for a property in Denmark?
House and apartment prices are expected to fall but is this a good time to buy property in Denmark? File photo: Mathias Svold/Ritzau Scanpix

The housing market in Denmark has started to change, after months of high prices and high demand. But is there ever a good time to buy? We speak to property experts for some advice.

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"During Covid the housing market went up and up, people had spare time and money from the government's corona relief packages, so the housing market went up and the interest rates fell," Mira Lie Nielsen, housing economist at Nykredit, told The Local.

"Then the gas prices started to rise and inflation rates started to follow and the war made people uncertain. But the housing market was doing fine, until we had rising interest rates, which came around March 2022. So when we hit July, we saw the first housing price drop, for both apartments and houses, falling mostly in the Copenhagen area," Nielsen said.

According to Nielsen, from July to August, house prices fell by 0.4 percent, apartment prices fell by 0.9 percent and Copenhagen apartment prices fell by 2 percent.

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"This is a normal cycle - when interest rates rise and the number of properties for sale come down," she said.

However there has been a "visible slowdown" in the number of properties for sale, with sales in Denmark at a level last seen in 2014 for houses and 2012 for apartments, according to Nielsen.

How much further will property prices fall?

Over the next 18 months, Nielsen expects there to be a 7-10 percent drop in house prices in Denmark, perhaps 15-16 percent in Copenhagen and a 10-12 percent drop in apartment prices with an even higher price drop for Copenhagen apartments. 

"Remember property prices in Copenhagen rose 30 percent during Covid and even before then they were high, so it's not such a shock," Nielsen added.

To buy or not to buy?

"We always recommend you buy a property based on when your family needs it, rather than an expectation of the housing market. If you want to speculate with your money, do it on other markets rather than the housing market," Lise Nytoft Bergmann, real estate economist and senior analyst with bank Nordea told The Local.

"We expect housing prices will go down, so if you're worried about the value decreasing and you have a nice place to live already, then maybe it's a good time to wait a little bit. But we don't really recommend that you do this kind of speculation because we've been surprised before, such as at the beginning of the pandemic and the beginning of 2020 when many economists in Denmark believed property prices would go down and we saw opposite of that. So it can be a dangerous strategy," Bergmann said.

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Why are property prices falling?

According to Lise Nytoft Bergmann from Nordea, reasons include interest rates going up and the current high inflation rate, which puts pressure on the buyer's economy.

Another reason for the apartment market falling in price is new property tax rules (boligskatteregler) which take effect in Denmark in 2024.

From 2024 onwards, two property taxes – ejendomsværdiskattesatser and grundskyld – will be calculated based on appraisals of the property and land value. 

Apartments are more likely to get tax increases under the new rules because the land under them has been undervalued for a long time. So a new valuation will increase the housing tax.

Existing home owners get a tax subsidy for this but new buyers will have to pay the higher housing tax rate. As prospective buyers know this is coming into effect in 2024, it could be a reason why apartment prices are already starting to fall and will continue to do so, Bergmann said.

Worth the costs of buying?

"We expect property prices to be lower in the future and there are costs connected to buying and selling a home in Denmark so it depends on expectations and what your alternative is, for example if it's easy to find a property you can rent that you like in the area you want," Bergmann said.

According to Bergmann, the extra costs involved in buying are around 4-5 percent of the property price. These costs include a registration fee which must be paid to the state of 1,750 kroner plus 0.6 percent of the purchasing price; and registration of the mortgage deed (pantebrev) of 1,730 kroner plus 1.45 percent of the purchase price. Banks and mortgage lenders must usually also be paid for their work related to the purchase.

The extra costs for selling are around 3-4 percent of the property price.

Mira Lie Nielsen, housing economist at Nykredit reiterates that moving house is a huge decision, financially and personally.  "Copenhagen prices are still very expensive and you have high financial costs from a loan. If you are happy where you are and can wait, it could be worth seeing what happens with the market and interest rates but if it's right for your family to move now then it shouldn't stop you," she said.

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