There was no sign of Corona gloom and doom when Norway’s national real estate federation released monthly housing sales statistics on Wednesday. Average prices were actually higher than April last year, but it did take longer to sell.
Sales tempo “was a bit weaker than a normal April,” said the chief executive of Eiendom Norge, Henning Lauridsen, “but it must be said that this is strong in light of the strict infection control measures and the Corona pandemic.”
Prices rose an average 0.5 percent nationwide from March to April, and 1.2 percent from April 2019. Prices rose the most in the Bodø-Fauske area of Northern Norway, up 0.6 percent. They were weakest in Oslo, where they declined 1 percent, but that’s where sales still occurred the quickest: It took on average 21 days to sell a home in the Norwegian capital, compared to 77 days in Ålesund, where it took the longest.
“After the first Corona shock in March (when the government shut down much of the country to halt the spread of the Corona virus), the housing market recovered well in April,” said Carl O Geving of the national real estate brokers’ federation (Norges Eiendomsmeglerforbund).
Economists have predicted the housing market that’s been hot for years will slow down considerably, mostly because of income uncertainty among hundreds of thousands of Norwegians currently laid off from work. Others have been caught holding two homes, after committing to buying a new home before selling their existing home.
The market has cooled down despite the unexpected price rise. Lauridsen said it was “a clear sign that prospective buyers aren’t in a hurry” when average turnover time in April rose to 55 days for a home on the market. That’s up from 43 days in April 2019.
Overall sales in April also declined, with 7,038 residential properties changing hands. That’s down by 10.3 percent from the same month last year but up from March. “The decline was 14.8 percent i March,” Lauridsen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “The number of homes is lying at a higher level now.”
The price rise is nonetheless encouraging at a time when also the real estate industry has been disrupted by new restrictions on open houses, technical inspections, contract meetings and takeover procedures. The amount of time devoted to property showings has also increased in order to meet social distancing requirements.
Analysts at both Norway’s largest bank, DNB, and Nordea had expected a price decline in April, as did 53 percent of people questioned in a recent public opinion poll. Many homeowners have also postponed real estate transactions until the Corona restrictions are further eased.