The bidding on the house was, as per normal in Sweden, a fast and furious event and the final price exceeded the asking price by +20%. It was uncomfortable, and over in less than a day. There was no time to travel and see the house.
Why was I able to do it? After 26 years in the relocation industry I have learned a lot about finding a new home.
In the last few years, we have helped our clients find properties in Sweden without them traveling here. We have done it since many are waiting for their work permits and aren’t allowed entry until that has been approved, yet they are needed to report to work quickly. Helping them with a home to move into upon arrival takes care of a huge task and they can get on with life and work straight away.
- So does that really work?
- Are people happy with a property that someone else picked?
- What if you don’t like it?
- How do you do it?
The overwhelming majority of people are happy!
Yet, these are all valid questions that we answer all the time, especially now in Covid-19 when it’s even more important to have a seamless home finding since landlords don’t want to let people into their homes unnecessarily. What we had already been doing for many of our clients for a long time, now it has become the norm for all clients that have arrived during the pandemic.
The housing in Sweden has been limited and there’s been a shortage since 1905! Yes, you read that right, 116 years of housing problem has cultivated a talent for explaining this to our clients and setting expectations. It mostly works.
More is less, not only the housing shortage prevents us from showing many options, but also for the peace of mind for the persons searching. After a long day of viewing many properties keeping the properties apart is not easy. Some go about it with excel sheets, checking of boxes, others take many, many photos to send home to family. Hence, part of the family gets physical visits while others are doing it virtually, not seldom across time zones. What the Swedish housing market can produce is 3-6 properties if the persons that are searching relax some requirements, absolutely needing a bathtub or seaview will severely limit the number of properties that can be shown.
Swedish building standards are very strict. A kitchen counter is 180 cm and the list goes on. Therefore, the difference between properties isn’t that big and while the apartments will be very similar and houses to a certain degree as well what will differ is the street address.
Yet, finding a new home has a huge symbolic meaning when it comes to any move it's the only thing that you can touch and feel.
- Will I like my new country?
- Will I be happy at work?
- Will my colleagues be welcoming?
- Will my kids enjoy the school?
- Can my spouse get a job?
All these big questions will be left unanswered until the actual move has taken place, but the anxiety is often tied into a home search. Covid-19 has removed the possibility to have extensive homefindings and we see that anxiety has been reduced.
Having been in the game for as long we have, we know that EVERYONE is happy with their home when they get here. I can count on my fingers, even after 26 years, the newcomers that have been unhappy with their homes. I think it may be in the human DNA to like where you live, yet the decision making before committing to a home can be a journey in itself. Some make fast decisions while others have to weigh options against one another. Having looked into happiness and decision making we set up a process many years ago that works.
If you go to your new destination, a lot of information, conversations, and a transfer of knowledge is transferred before the move actually takes place to make our clients comfortable with choosing in a very limited market.
Virtual tours are also perfect, the client joins the viewing already before entering the property and gets a description and overview of the area. It’s almost as good as being there, they get to chat to the landlord which they also often request. Our relocation team has gotten very apt in doing this so the clients feel comfortable.
From my experience after thousands of home findings I know that I will be happy in the house we bought. I look forward to seeing it in three months. I also know that it’s not a huge decision. It can always be reversed, i.e. sold or rented out.
What will make it a good move?
- The surroundings
- That everyone in the family is onboard
- Taking it as it comes and making it a joint adventure
Having learned from both our brave and not-so-brave clients I know that we will enjoy the house that we haven’t seen.
But, we are not done yet! What happens if they don’t like a property picked for them?
Getting assistance with homefinding is a great benefit and new employees are grateful. They are even happier when they hear from other ex-pats how incredibly hard it is to find something.
Most companies will allow one home finding mission. As mentioned, most are happy and grateful with what they get and we don’t even have a disgruntled person per decade or year so the risk is slim. Companies typically provide the service once and moves will be up the individual to handle on his or her own.
Yet, virtual home finding is not for everyone, we notice pretty quickly who is who and for more complex moves, ie. people with families it can be advisable to travel to the location and look yourself to be happy with the outcome.
Ask for information on our virtual housing tours and remote home search programs.
I promise you that it works!