You can generally feel secure when buying an apartment in a housing complex in Norway.

Av: Dato: English

I have previously written a blog about legal forms of home ownership in Norway, where I emphasized that both ownership models, cooperative housing associations (borettslag) and joint ownership (sameie), are secure housing options regulated by good laws and functioning effectively.

What I want to share with you additionally is how these housing associations work in practice.

When you purchase an apartment in Norway, you’re not just buying the property itself; you’re buying into a community that is either a cooperative housing association or a joint ownership. The law dictates how these entities should be managed, who is responsible, what decisions are made by the elected board, and what must be discussed at the general meeting or co-owner’s meeting, where all property owners can attend and cast their votes.

What’s great is that the board is composed of people who live in the housing association, and as such, they have a vested interest in running it as effectively as possible. They receive valuable assistance from professional property managers who handle accounting and budgeting, collect common fees, provide assistance with maintenance plans, and organize annual meetings.

Each housing association has its own articles of association that align with the law. In addition, there is the option to have specific rules on certain matters, such as the housing association’s responsibility for maintenance and the individual owner’s responsibilities. For example, in some places, window replacement is the responsibility of the housing association, while in others, it’s the responsibility of the individual apartment owner. Therefore, it’s always advisable to review the articles of association.

When I assist you with your property purchase, I always go through the documents provided by the property manager, including the annual report and financial statements, to check whether the housing association is being run well or if there are specific issues you should be vigilant about. For instance, excessive renting out of units and complaints about noise or significant upcoming expenses that will be passed on to you through common fees.

I find that many foreigners looking to buy an apartment are somewhat anxious about whether the buildings and housing association will be adequately maintained by the board and property manager. This is a healthy skepticism, and we always need to verify, as I’ve described above.

But overall, we are good at managing housing associations and taking collective responsibility in Norway, and the entire system is well-organized through legislation. So, you can generally feel secure when buying an apartment in a housing complex in Norway.

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What happens during a property handover in Norway

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You’ve purchased a new property, and the time for the handover is approaching. Now is the moment of truth, did you buy the right property ?

Perhaps you’re a bit unsure about what to expect and what you should be cautious about.

Here are some useful tips:

Taking over a pre-owned property doesn’t entail a thorough re-examination to find defects and deficiencies. This should have been assessed during the viewing, and all essential information about the property’s condition should have been provided in the sales materials. You should take possession of the property as agreed upon based on this information.

However, on the take over you will still go through the property with the seller to check:

  1. That the apartment, including any associated storage units and, if applicable, a garage, is emptied, cleared, and cleaned.
  2. That all accessories and movable property described in the sales brochure and included in the sale are present.
  3. Keys should be handed over. Make sure you receive all the keys belonging to the seller, including keys for storage units and the garage.

Settling accounts:

Most real estate agents prefer that common expenses and other minor costs be settled directly between the seller and the buyer. This might be the case if the handover occurs in the middle of a month, for example. Remember to agree on the specific amount and the method of transferring the money.

Withholding a portion of the payment:

If the property is not adequately cleaned or you discover items that you believe were not included in the agreement regarding fixtures and fittings or the property’s qualities, as the buyer, you have the right to withhold a proportionate amount from the payment. This must be noted on the handover form, and remember that the withheld amount should be commensurate with the cost of rectifying or replacing any defects or deficiencies.

Once the property has been examined, and the electricity meter readings have been recorded jointly, the seller sends the signed handover protocol to the real estate agent. This is often done electronically via mobile devices. The agent will take care of registration and the settlement process for the seller. If there’s a need for withholding by the buyer, this amount is temporarily subtracted from the settlement and held in the agent’s client account. The parties – the seller and the buyer, ideally in cooperation with the agent – must find a resolution to any disagreement. Only when the matter is resolved and confirmed in writing by the buyer will the remaining settlement amount be released to the seller.

Most handovers occur without the need for withholding, but it’s good to be aware of the possibility. Additionally, this arrangement allows the handover to proceed even if there’s a minor dispute.

The absence of the real estate agent:

It’s common for the agent not to be present during the handover. It might seem a bit strange, considering that it’s a day of joy where the final result of the sale materializes. However, they might be preoccupied with new sales assignments…

I have found that some of my clients become a bit uncertain about meeting the seller alone, likely with concerns about potential disagreements. Therefore, I have sometimes accompanied my clients during the handover.

I hope the tips above can be useful and helpful, and if you have any more questions about the handover process, please don’t hesitate to get in touch

Best wishes
Boligdama – Trude Larsen



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How does home buyer’s insurance work in Norway?

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Most people who buy a home in Norway, are offered home buyer’s insurance, through the Real Estate company. And it is usually a good idea to buy this insurance.

But what does it cover?

From the name, it may appear as if you as a home buyer are insured for all kind of problems that may arise after the home purchase. For example, if something about the home is not as you assumed it would be. Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

A lawyer’s insurance

The insurance is simply a lawyer’s insurance that gives you legal help if you discover something you think is wrong after the purchase But, if this is something you should have seen at the viewing or read about in the sales material, it is not covered by the insurance.

In other words, it must be a hidden error or deficiency or lack of essential information from the seller. This is due to the buyer’s duty to investigate, which you can read more about here.

If you submit a complaint to the buyer’s insurance company, they will first investigate whether the complaining issue is something the seller has disclosed by or if it is something you should have discovered before you bid. If the latter is the case, or probably neither a hidden error, they will tell you that there is no basis for taking the matter further with the seller. If they believe you have a case, they will take the case further against the seller. Or usually the seller’s insurance company. Most sellers have taken out home sales insurance.

And now we are at the centre of the matter:

When the seller has home seller insurance and gets legal help if there is a complaint afterwards, it will be difficult for you to be without buyer’s insurance. Then you must pursue the case, alone as a consumer, against a professional party. You must write all complaints yourself and follow up the case. It will be both time-consuming and exceedingly difficult.

That is why I advise all my clients to take out home buyer’s insurance. It is a one-off payment that is not very high – from approx. NOK 7,000 to NOK 10,000 which ensures you if problems should arise.

Many disputes in connection with the sale and purchase of property are resolved through these insurance schemes and lawyers associated with the insurance companies that offer this. It also happens that they hire other property lawyers to help them with the cases.

The process of complaining through the home buyer’s incurance company

If you make use of the home buyer’s insurance, you must contact the insurance company itself and register the complaint. You will then contact a specific lawyer at the proper time – if the case is taken further.  This is long an expensive process.

The estate agents you bought the property from will have an overview of which company you should adress the complaint.  First check in your purchase contract that you have taken out buyer’s insurance. It will state which company it was subscribed to, and you can contact them, or fill in a claim report online.

Having to use a lawyer in property matters, whether via the home buyer’s insurance or otherwise, is never pleasant. The best thing is to check the property so carefully before buying that you avoid problems afterwards. As you know, the best thing about insurance is avoiding the use of them.

Checking the sales material and help you to avoid complaints after the purchase is one of my main tasks as home buying consultant.


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Are there special bidding methods that can help you to purchase your dream home in Norway?

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Yes, there is.

Everyone who buys a home in Norway must go through a bidding round or bid negotiations. We practice what is known as the auction principle, with an open bidding round, where the highest bid wins the contract. In the vast majority of cases, the estate agent acts as an intermediary and administrator of the bidding round. How the bidding round is to take place is regulated by the Real Estate Brokerage Act.

Seller’s and buyer’s interests are obviously conflicting in a bidding round. The seller wants the best possible price and is supported by the estate agent to achieve this. The buyer wants the lowest possible price and is normally on his own to look after his interests in the bidding negotiations.

This imbalance, where the buyer stands alone against a professional party, makes the bidding round a nightmare for many buyers. There is often considerable competition over the objects to be purchased. This means that the only option is to register as a bidder via an estate agent, participate in the carousel and successively bid higher than the last bidder. You risk paying too much in relation to the current market level or losing the bidding round. Not always because the money is not enough, but because the fear of losing money becomes too great. A fear that can be a healthy reflex, especially if two bidders outbid each other by several hundred thousand.

Secret bids and bids directly to seller

However, there are methods that the buyer can use to avoid the traditional bidding round, namely closed/secret bids or bids directly to the seller.

These are today completely legal methods. In proposals for amendments to the Real Estate Brokerage Act, the rules for this have been discussed. It is proposed to prohibit closed or secret bids.

The buyer needs alternative tools in the toolbox.

As a home buying adviser, I have been reluctant to recommend home buying clients to make offers directly to the seller or to practice secret bidding. It has worked quite well to use the normal method with regular bidding rounds.

In recent years, however, it has been a tough housing market for buyers. With few homes for sale, high demand and subsequent crazy bidding rounds, especially for attractive homes. Then it has proven to be nice to have alternative tools in the toolbox, such as bids directly to the seller and secret bids.

Bid directly to the seller.

Imagine that you have lost four rounds of bidding and suddenly see that your dream house is for sale. You cannot bear the thought of going through yet another bidding round but want a quick and painless negotiation process where you hopefully secure the home. You have a fairly good overview or get help assessing the market price for the home. Wouldn’t it then be tempting to go directly to the seller with an offer within acceptable market level?

Such a procedure, which is called “kupping” in Norwegian, is obviously not so fun for the other interested parties who are waiting for the viewing and who are told that it has been cancelled. However, all buyers have the opportunity to make a direct offer to the seller. Moreover, the method is based on the principle of free negotiation, which is important in our country.

How to do it

If you consider giving a bid directly to the seller, usually before the Open House viewing, you have to ask for a private viewing.  If this is your dream home and you want to try to secure it with a bid directly to the seller, you fill out a bidding form with the top text, bid directly to the seller.  Please contact me for help with this, advice about the price level and strategy.

Read also:  How to bid on real estate in Norway

Secret bid

Secret bid can also be a good tool. This means that you make an offer, via a broker, where you make reservations that other interested parties should not be informed about the offer. It is the seller’s choice to accept the confidentiality clause, as well as to decide on the offer. If such a bid appears in the middle of a bidding round, the confidentiality clause will probably not be accepted, and the bid rejected. Unless it is sky-high, and the seller feels tempted to accept it.

But let us say that the home has been for sale for a while, and the market is a bit on the buyer’s side. There are interested parties on the estate agent’s list from previous viewings, but the new bidder wants to negotiate peacefully with the seller without waking up previous interested parties. In that case, a reservation about a secret bid can be both appropriate and timely and an important contribution for completing the trade. Something I myself helped to contribute to a little while ago. To the delight of both buyer and seller.  It is therefore unwise to ban this.

The method will be probably not be used very often in ongoing bidding rounds but can be an important contribution in individual bid negotiations. Transparent processes are a good thing, but the concern for transparency must not overshadow the possibilities of achieving a good deal.

How to do it.

You give the bid as usual, either on a bidding form or digital.  On “forbehold” – conditions for the bid you must write that you want the bid to be confidential to other interest parts and only be informed about to the seller.   The real estate agent is allowed to convey this bid.

Maybe the seller, through the realtor, will decline the condition of confidentiality.  If so, you are still in a position to keep your bid without the condition or say that your bid is not valid without the condition.  Please contact me for help with the price level and strategy for the process.

As you understand, this is a little complicated.  But it is important that buyer’s  know about these possibilities.  Especially if you see that your dream home is on the market and want to secure that it is becoming yours.  If so, I will help you to choose and implementation of the best bidding process.

Boligdama – Trude Larsen   +47 950 37 330

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