Swedish real estate could be the key

By: Nicholas Marr
What is the fourth largest property market in Europe? Would it shock you to learn that it is also the home of Ikea, and Saab? Sweden, is the fourth largest land mass in Europe, and has a population of nine million. Britain, by comparison is home to about 59 million people who live in an area half the size of Sweden. Sweden is commonly perceived as being expensive and cold. It's true the cost of living in Sweden is higher than Britain; but property prices are lower, and its actually hotter in the summer than the UK, and not nearly as wet in winter.

Sweden is a member of the EU, although like Britain it has not adopted the euro as its currency, Sweden's GDP per capita is approximately 15% above the EU25 average, placing it well within the 10 wealthiest nations in Europe. The cost of living is high by UK standards, but property prices are surprisingly low with country cottages priced from €40,000 (?27,500) and villas from €100,000 (?69,000).

Gothenburg, on the west coast, is a major port and industrial centre. It's also home to a world-class opera house, and has a lively down town area. Malmo, on the south coast, arguably has the greatest economic potential of all Sweden's cities following the completion of a 16 kilometre-long bridge and tunnel linking it to Copenhagen, Denmark, where workers are choosing to work in in Copenhagen, and live in Malmo where house prices are cheaper.

The disparity between house prices in Sweden and its neighboring countries is due to the Swedes – typically preferring to rent rather than buy property as supply and demand for tenanted occupation is one of the most favorable anywhere in the world. In Stockholm people often stay on housing lists for five years before finding something suitable. The downside is that the rental market is over-regulated, and rents have been kept artificially low. Vast numbers of properties are now being sold to the private sector therefore rents in the cities should rise fast. Depending on your finance arrangements, you may wish to hire an independent surveyor, which is common practice in Sweden. You are not obliged to have a solicitor but it is strongly recommended you do so when buying a property overseas. Once the transaction is completed, it is the buyer's responsibility to apply for deeds of title within three months of the sale transfer and submit them for registration.

In practice, your solicitor will do this on your behalf. Expect to pay 1-4% in solicitor's fees. Stamp duty is charged on registration of the title deeds at approximately 1% of the purchase price. Property tax is payable at an annual rate of around 1.5% of the property's regularly assessed value at 75% and will be charged on tax registered foreign ownership. Newly built homes or renovated homes are exempt from property tax for the first five years with the next five years at a 50% reduction.

Another popular method of property ownership/investment within the Scandinavian region is syndicated property ownership. These are typically set up as limited companies registered with the equivalent of companies house in the appropriate country. The single purpose of the registered business is to purchase, manage tenants, collect rental income, and sell the property, at the end of the investment term – and make all the necessary returns to all the investors involved. Returns from rental income are typically paid back to investors during the investment term either; quarterly or annuallyFree Articles, and any capital appreciation of the property is paid in a lump sum at the end of the investment period.

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