Rooms with a view for sale, now via livestreaming
Social distancing rules are prompting Sweden’s real estate to turn increasingly to livestreaming house viewings to keep the property market going amid fears of a sharp price fall as novel coronavirus pandemic hits the economy.
While Sweden has opted against the total lockdown seen across much of Europe, physical house viewings have slowed as most people observe social distancing.
“The apartment we are showing today is around 40 square meters, so it really is not appropriate to have too many people,” said real-estate agent Daniel Fredricson, holding a livestream viewing in Bromma in Stockholm. “We get around that by trying to digitalize a lot by offering online viewings.”
Following the 15 minutes virtual viewing, 12 people left their details before the bidding process for the apartment, on the market for 2.495 million Swedish crowns (US$255,000), began. A handful of couples also turned up for a physical viewing a few minutes later — trooping in one by one to avoid overcrowding.
Sweden’s housing market has enjoyed a bull run for most of the last three decades, barely pausing during the financial crisis from 2008 to 2009 and registering a roughly 10 percent fall between late 2017 and early 2018, when tougher mortgage rules were introduced, before picking up again.
Now the economy is set for its worst year since the start of World War II. The government reckons GDP will fall 7 percent.
Housing prices are set to drop. The question is how far.
“At the start of 2020, we had a forecast ... of plus 5 percent for this year or around there, now we believe it will be minus 5, 10 or maybe 15 percent,” said Jens Magnusson, economist at SEB.
“But we don’t expect a crash in the housing market.”
Banking group SEB’s housing sentiment indicator fell a record monthly amount in April, dropping 67 points to minus 20.
But the absolute level remains above the minus 62 points nadir the housing market hit in late 2008.
With real-estate prices in Stockholm falling 4 percent in the last two weeks of March and a dropping further 2 percent in the first half of April, buyers are hoping for a bargain.