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House sales and mortgage applications fall but prices and rents stay the same

Half of agents report a drop in property transactions during the coronavirus crisis, but prices so far unaffected and may even rise, says one industry insider.

Kiinteistönvälittäjä Sebastian Lindén esittelee Irina Karppiselle asuntoa.
Estate agent Sebastian Lindén shows a property to househunter Irina Karppinen Image: Ville Airaksinen / Yle
Yle News

Househunter Irina Karppinen rubs sanitiser on her hands as she steps into a showing at a property for sale in Nuottaniemi in Espoo, in the search for a new house for her three-person family.

“We're most likely going to have to put our plans on ice, at least for now. Or on the other hand maybe we'll find a great home at a knock-down price,” she reflects.

But Karppinen says the prospect of selling the family's current home in the midst of the coronavirus crisis seems stressful.

Sebastian Lindén, estate agent with RE/MAX, says the number of property sales in the capital region has not gone down despite the crisis. He says three people have come to view the house for sale in Nuottaniemi this week, for instance.

“The corona situation doesn't scare me. I'm seeing the same number of trades as before,” he says.

However he now offers potential buyers hand sanitiser and even face masks when they come to view a property.

“I film the properties I'm selling and send it to potential buyers on their phones,” he says. “They can look around virtually.”

Business slowing for half of agents

However, half of agents in a survey by the Finnish estate agent association SKVL have said that business has slowed in the last two weeks. Around a third of respondents reported more than a ten percent drop in sales.

Despite a shock when the crisis first hit, “sales are going surprisingly normally,” SKVL head Jussi Mannerberg claims.

Part of the slowdown, he says, can be attributed to people in high-risk groups postponing their sales.

A number of banks have also reported a drop in the numbers of home loan applications.

“Mortgage applications fell by a third in one week,” development director TomMiller of Hypoteekkiyhdistys says.

Danske Bank reported a 20 percent drop in loan applications, while OP bank saw a reduction of one quarter.

“A bigger change has been in requests for a repayment holiday on existing mortgages,”OP's Harri Nummela says. “We are seeing ten times more of these than before.”

Nummela predicts a further fall in property sales volumes during April of up to 50percent.

But despite the slowdown in the market, the asking price of properties has not yet been affected.

“Nor have we seen any changes in rent levels,” Jussi Mannerberg of estate agents' association SKVL says.

Mannerberg believes that a fall in properties on the market could even lead to prices going up, if demand stays the same.

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