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Swedish house prices continue to surge
During the year to Q3 2017:
- Greater Stockholm house prices rose by 5.6% (3.3% inflation-adjusted), compared with last year's rise of 4.6% y-o-y in Q3 2016. Quarter-on-quarter, house prices increased 0.9% during the latest quarter.
- Greater Göteborg house prices increased by 10.9% (8.5% inflation-adjusted), an upsurge from a rise of 6.1% a year earlier. House prices rose by 2.2% during the latest quarter.
- Greater Malmo house prices surged 11.9% (9.5% inflation-adjusted), down from 13.8% y-o-y in Q3 2016. Quarter-on-quarter, house prices increased 4.5% in Q3 2017.
However, demand is now falling. The number of home purchases fell by 7.3% to 38,517 units during the first three quarters of 2017 from a year earlier, according to Statistics Sweden. Home sales fell by 6.19% in 2016, after rising by 5.93% in 2015, 6.71% in 2014 and 3.83% in 2013.
Dwelling starts of newly constructed one- or two-dwelling buildings increased only 1.5% y-o-y in the first three quarters of 2017 while completions rose strongly, by 12.6%.
"The Riksbank's assessment is that housing prices will continue to increase in the next few years, but at a slower rate, as the supply of housing is increasing and mortgage rates are expected to rise," according Sweden's Central Bank.
The Swedish economy expanded by 2.9% from a year earlier in Q3 2017, a slight improvement from a 2.8% expansion during the same period last year, according to Statistics Sweden. The Swedish economy is expected to grow by 3.2% this year and by 2.7% next year, after annual growth rates of 3.3% in 2016 and 4.1% in 2015, according to the European Commission.
Yields are moderate in Stockholm, Sweden
Swedish property yields are moderate. This year, we were unable to get yields figures because rents were hard to get in sufficient quantity to be reliable. When we surveyed them last year, mid-sized central Stockholm apartments (80 to 120 sq. m.) had the most generous gross yields, at 6 to 7%. Other sized properties seemed likely to have lower yields, at around 3 to 4%, and properties in suburban Stockholm also had relatively lower yields, at 3% to 5%, while apartments in the centre of the second-largest city of Gottenburg can yield around 5% to 7%.
Because rents are tied to the age of the property, the higher yields in the city-centre reflect partly the newer housing stock in those areas.
Generally, property prices in Stockholm vary in a range from €6,000 to €7,500 per square metre.
Round trip transaction costs on residential property are quite low in Sweden. See our Sweden residential property transaction costs analysis and Transaction costs in Sweden compared to other countries in Europe
High rental income taxes and CGT
Rental Income: Rental income is generally considered as business income and taxed at progressive rates. Income-generating expenses are deductible when computing the taxable income.
Capital Gains: Capital gains tax is levied at a general rate of 30%. Acquisition costs are deductible when computing the taxable gains.
Inheritance: Inheritance tax in Sweden has been abolished since January 2005.
Residents: Residents are taxed on their worldwide income at progressive rates.
Transaction costs in Sweden are low
Closing costs range from 7.26% to 9.26%. The buyer pays stamp duty (4.25%) and registration fee of SEK825 (€96). The seller pays the real estate agent’s fee (3% - 5%). When the buyer and the seller reach an agreement, the former pays a deposit ranging from 2% to 10% of the purchase price.
Strictly regulated rental market
Sweden’s rental market is strongly pro-tenant. The system is enormously counter-productive. Eight per cent of the Swedish population is queueing for a new apartment, with an average waiting time of 10 years
Rents: Rents are set far below reasonable returns-on-investment. Rents are little influenced by location, so that metropolitan units are especially under priced. The system is enforced by Rent Tribunals.
Tenant Security: Tenants have a right to prolong their contract, essentially for ever. The rule is totally asymmetric; a tenant may at all times give 3 month’s notice, even if the contract is fixed for a given period, to terminate the agreement.
In September 2006 the Alliance for Sweden, a centre-right coalition headed by Moderate Party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt, unseated the Social Democrat Party of Goran Persson. Since then, the housing system has been high on the agenda. An ongoing state review of the system argues for the removal of the current rental ceiling, so that private housing companies and individuals could set market rents.
Modest economic growthThe Swedish economy is expected to grow by 3.2% this year and by 2.7% next year, after annual growth rates of 3.3% in 2016 and 4.1% in 2015, according to the European Commission, mainly due to a surge in domestic demand caused by the continued increase in housing construction and the Riksbank’s below-zero interest-rate policy to defend its inflation target of 2%.
Moreover, the government’s efforts to accommodate the influx of immigrants from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq are boosting public spending and economic growth. In addition, exports were strengthened by the fact that during the past four years, the Swedish krona (SEK) depreciated against the euro by about 12.6% from a monthly average exchange rate of SEK8.6096 = EUR 1 in November 2012 to SEK9.8488 = EUR1 in November 2017.
The government budget surplus was 1.1% of GDP in 2016, up from 0.2% in 2015 and a deficit of 1.6% in 2014. A surplus of 0.9% of GDP is projected in 2017, according to the European Commission.
In November 2017, unemployment stood at 5.8%, the lowest level in almost nine years. Unemployment averaged 7.9% from 2009 to 2016.
Inflation was 2% in November 2017, up from 1.6% a year earlier, according to Statistics Sweden.