The first exhibition weekend of the year gives brokers hope in 2024.
After a surprisingly strong first half of the year, house prices finally hit the interest rate wall in 2023.
While prices rose as much as seven percent in some parts of the country, nationally prices ended with weak growth of 0.5 percent. This came after prices fell 0.9 percent in December.
December was also the month in which the central bank raised interest rates for the 14th time since autumn 2021. Norwegians' mortgage costs have risen, while appetite for new homes has waned.
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However, the first round of viewings this year were encouraging and housing experts now believe that prices will turn around.
– We're pretty sure we've hit rock bottom. It could also have an impact on homebuyers, who everyone thinks we've reached an interest rate peak, says Christopher Askger, managing director at Sem & Johnson.
I think Oslo will catch inflation
There are 50 brokers working in Oslo, and although they only expect to get the ball rolling in earnest next weekend, Askjer reports a good response to screenings they held this weekend.
– There was a good turnout. We had one object attached and another 54 for display. Overall, he says, we're now back to normal with about eight to ten of each screening.
In Oslo, price trends were flat in December. At the same time, new housing is very scarce.
This, combined with the response from brokers in the field, reinforces Askjer's belief that we will see price growth in 2024. Even if he's a little off the scale when making predictions.
– We believe that there will be growth. Last year, after the first half of the year, it was seven percent. We may not get it this year, but we are confident that we will catch inflation. Well, maybe not absolutely certain, but we think there's a good chance, he says.
In its monetary policy statement, Norges Bank estimates inflation at 4.8 percent in 2024.
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Norges Bank expects house prices to rise by one percent in 2024 on a national basis.
Renate Sørestrand-Hansen, CEO of DNB Eiendom, says that the beginning of the year has so far given positive signals.
– There are more screenings on the first weekend this year than last year. In Oslo and Stavanger, we saw things go well beyond the asking price. So while it's early days, there's cautious optimism, he says.
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January will be a good month for the housing market. In the past three years, prices tend to rise in the first half of the year before reacting in the fall and later in the year.
Sorestrand-Hansen believes that's because many homes were withdrawn from the market during a difficult December before trying again with new prices.
— but we see the housing market doing incredibly well. We're hoping spring will be a little quieter than what we're used to, but that will pick up over summer. Then there will be a wage settlement and we will see the effect of homelessness, he says.
DNB predicts growth on a national basis to be the same as in 2023, i.e. a slight increase.
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I hope it's a good year in the capital
If inflation comes under control, central bank governor Ida Woldenbach has signaled that interest rates could be cut in the fall.
The housing shortage will, by all accounts, become more pressing, and there are now as many houses in Finn as there were at this time last year. That should be good news for home sellers, says Askjer.
– We have a fundamentally positive view on this. Most people believe inflation will be below 4 percent, and we believe house prices in Oslo will rise by five percent, he says.
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