Unfortunately my plans for blogging more regularly were hindered last week by the flurry of moving activity! However, things are starting to slow down a little now that the new place is finally livable!
To recap the whirlwind home-buying process:
Sunday 23 August – We went to the visning for the apartment, and spent about 15 minutes looking around before rushing off to visit ten other flats.
[Instead of having a realtor show you around to a variety of options that meet your criteria, the usual home search here is to search the online real estate listings and then go to the scheduled open-house viewings (visnings).]
We decided Sunday night that we would bid on the apartment, and after looking at our budget and recent sale prices in the area we decided the absolute, unalterable, set-in-stone maximum price that we would pay.
Monday 24 August - Bidding on the apartment started on Monday morning when the realtor called to tell us a bid had been made for the asking price, expiring at 2:00 that afternoon.
[By law, bidding cannot end until at least 24 hours after the close of the last visning. Sarcasm: You know, to give people a whole day to decide whether they want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars!]
So Lucas filled out the form to bid slightly more and sent it along with our loan pre-approval to the realtor. A few hours later, the other bidder bid again, and we countered with our maximum offer. At this point, if we didn’t hear anything by 2:00, the apartment was essentially ours, and if the other party bid higher we would have to drop out.
At five minutes to 2:00, Lucas’s phone rang… He answered it with a sense of dread, but it turned out to be another realtor contacting us about another apartment we’d seen the day before! Phew! Finally, the realtor called back shortly after 2:00 and said that the other bidder had put his bid on hold, but if we would be able to move in a few weeks earlier, they would just accept our bid and consider the place sold.
We explained that we rent from the company that’s selling the apartment, so if they were willing to let us out of our lease before the 3-month notice period, we could move at any time. Of course it’s a win-win for them, since they’ll be able to put our old apartment (which is bigger and phenomenally more expensive) on the market sooner, so that was that.
Wednesday 26 August – We went to the local bank to apply for a mortgage (our pre-approval was with our online bank, but one of the local banks was advertising lower rates).
[Both the banks we looked at wanted a 20% down payment, and we ended up with a 2.85% loan. It's a variable rate, which is a little unnerving, but I haven't seen a fixed-rate loan for longer than 10 years here, and we definitely can't afford to pay off the whole amount in just 10 years. However, we should be able to afford the mortgage without a problem as long as rates don't top 8%, so I'm not too worried.]
Thursday 27 August – We went to the realtor’s office and signed the purchase contract.
[Eight pages of Norwegian, which was kind of scary. But luckily the buyer in Norway usually has most of the rights, so I actually think it was less terrifying than if we'd bought a house in the US with all the legal issues and home inspections and whatnot.]
Later that day, we payed the deposit (10% of the purchase price) online as an ordinary payment – a simple bank transfer between accounts.
Monday 14 September – Back in Norway, we hit the ground running with a trip to the bank to sign the loan papers. More Norwegian paperwork, but this was fairly straightforward (and our banking vocabulary is slightly better than our transfer-of-housing-title vocabulary).
Wednesday 16 September – We paid the remaining balance (after the initial 10% and the loan amount).
Friday 18 September – We met the realtor at the new apartment to take over the keys. This was the first time we’d seen our newly-purchased property since the public visning! Thankfully, there weren’t any major problems, since the place was being sold as-is!
After what would have been just two weeks (had we not had a two-week trip inconveniently scheduled in the middle of the process), we now officially owned our first home. Now it was time to move!