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Housing slump gathers pace in Sweden with buyers losing faith
[STOCKHOLM] Sweden's housing slump deepened last month as the market struggles to absorb a supply glut and households lose confidence.
Nationwide apartment prices declined a monthly three per cent in November, adding to October's one per cent drop, according to data from Svensk Maklarstatistik AB. House prices fell one per cent in the month, after being unchanged in October.
The housing market in the largest Nordic economy is rapidly cooling after years of price increases that were driven largely by a housing shortage and ultra-low interest rates. But supply is now outstripping demand and stricter mortgage rules as well as growing apprehension among households are driving prices lower, led by high-end apartments in Stockholm.
The big supply "has resulted in buyers having more to chose from and taking longer before buying," Hans Flink, head of sales and business development at Maklarstatistik, said in a statement. "The sellers are therefore starting to adjust their prices to the tougher competition, which is pushing prices down somewhat."
The growing risks have been noticed abroad, with traders pushing the krona down almost five per cent since August. Officials, including the finance minister and the central bank governor, have so far taking a hands off approach, arguing a cooling in prices is natural after the rapid increases over the past years.
Thursday's data showed apartment prices in greater Stockholm fell three per cent in the month and were down four per cent from a year earlier, the first such decline in almost six years. House prices in the capital fell two per cent in the month and were up two per cent in the year.
In Sweden as whole, apartment prices were one per cent higher in November than a year earlier, which marks the slowest annual increase since 2012. House prices advanced six per cent on an annual basis.
Households are getting increasingly pessimistic about the outlook for property prices. SEB AB's housing-price indicator, which measures the difference between those who believe prices will rise and those who expect them to drop, fell to minus five in December. It showed that for the first time since February 2012, a majority of Swedes expect prices to fall in the coming year.