Hi my name is Surviving in Sweden and I am addicted to Hemnet, along with 75% of the Swedish population.
As you know, we have been looking for a house. It is not going well. We are trying to remain optimistic.
But that doesn’t matter because I have been reading Hemnet for years. Hement.se is the website where a large majority of houses and apartments for sale in Sweden are advertised. Most real estate agents post all of their properties there. And most Swedes read it obsessively.
Many a late night drinking session has turned into a ‘Did you see THAT house on Hemnet?’ ‘oh, you are obsessed with Hemnet, too? What about THAT house’
Everyone knows the house that has been listed for 6 months (what is WRONG with it anyway), the house with the crazy layout (who has a 200 square meter house with ONE bedroom) or the beautiful house for 10 million SEK that we all dream about.
Here are a few things I have learned since actually starting to view real life houses and not just Hemnet:
1) Professional photographers make their real money from Hemnet – At least I hope they are paying these guys well. The photos are amazing. And then you get there. And you see how kind of, maybe, if the light came in just from that angle, it might look that nice – but you will have to knock down that wall, rewallpaper and put in new flooring in what looked like a totally acceptable room.
2) This house looks familiar – If a house stays on Hemnet for more than 90 days it is like the kiss of death. While most housing markets, 90 days does not signal the end of the world, in Hemnet land it means ‘nobody loves me’. So very often (although they would never ever ever admit it), real estate agents take down houses for the necessary 23 odd days, and then repost, perhaps with new photos and sometimes even a new price, to start the clock again.
3) Lower price not always good – These days the housing market in Sweden is doing weird things. Is it up? Is it down? No one seems to know, least of all the statisticians (Last month one study showed prices up, and another showed them down). When real estate agents need a property to move faster, they sometimes add a ‘price dropped 5-10%’. In many other places this might lead some people to place a bid. In my informal studies of Hemnet, this is also a bit of a kiss of death. The instant you think people do not want a house, you do not want that house either. A lower price? Not always good.
There is much to learn from Hemnet. I often wonder ‘Where are all the books?’ when I see endless photos of Swedish homes. But even more often I wonder ‘Where is all of the stuff?’ because everything is so damn minimalistic! There is no homey atmosphere, at showings there is no smell of baking cookies. Instead it is bare, open space and the same white kitchen ad nausea.
One day Hemnet will lead me to my dream home. And when it does, I will have to slowly wean myself away from my Hemnet addiction, so I don’t go back and compare and think about what could have been.