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How Copenhagen could introduce help for first-time home buyers

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The Local ([email protected])
How Copenhagen could introduce help for first-time home buyers
A new part-ownership model could be introduced to help first time buyers onto Copenhagen's property ladder. File photo: Mathias Svold/Ritzau Scanpix

Copenhagen Municipality is hoping to introduce consider a home ownership model which would allow buyers to own half of their home and rent the other half.

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It is notoriously difficult for first-time buyers to get on to Copenhagen’s property ladder due to high prices and demand.

The city municipality now appears ready to the issue with a new part-ownership model which takes inspiration from a scheme used in Norwegian capital Oslo, according to a report by TV2 Kosmopol.

A large majority on the Copenhagen Municipality council (Borgerrepræsentation) recently adopted a proposal that could introduce an entirely new ownership model for homes in the Danish capital.

The model would let buyers purchase a proportion of their home and pay rent on the remainder until some point in the future when they have enough capital to buy it out and thereby own the property in full.

All parties in the city government with the exception of the libertarian Liberal Alliance voted for the proposal.

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The vote means that the city administration’s finance committee (Økonomiforvaltningen) must now produce a design for the implementation of the model in Copenhagen. This must then be presented before a final vote on whether the proposal becomes reality.

“We know that there are a lot of young first-time buyers who find it hard to get on to the property market in Copenhagen and therefore move out of the city and give up on their dream of owning a home in Copenhagen,” Liberal (Venstre) councillor Jens-Kristian Lütken told TV2 Kosmopol.

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“That’s why we need a form in which you don’t have to pay as much upfront but still become a homeowner,” he said.

The version of the model used in Oslo involves an agreement with a private company, OsloBolig, which buys primarily new builds and then partly sells and partly rents them to first time buyers, who must fulfil politically-set criteria to qualify for the scheme.

One version used in Oslo allow the buyer to own 60 percent of the home with the remainder being purchased in smaller chunks over several years, and rented in the intervening time.

The number of homes purchased in Oslo using the scheme remains very low, however, meaning few conclusions can be drawn about its success.

A change in the law would be required for such a model to be used anywhere in Denmark but the housing minister, Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil, has said in a written comment to newspaper Politiken that she could support it.

Housing economist Curt Liliengreen, director of thinktank Boligøkonomisk Videncenter, told Politiken that similar formats had been used in the United States and United Kingdom with some success – particularly among younger and single first time buyers – and that it could appeal to a small segment in Denmark, particularly in Copenahagen and Aarhus.

“I think the model could help a limited segment on to the housing market. It’s no silver bullet,” he said with reference to high house prices.

The average age of first-time home buyers in Denmark was 37.3 years in 2022, compared to 32.6 years in 1987 according to Statistics Denmark.

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