If you plan on living in the Helsinki area permanently, buying a home is often cheaper than renting. The most affordable homes in the city cost an average of 3,000 euros per square metre.
The most popular websites for buying and selling apartments, row houses and detached homes in Helsinki are www.etuovi.com and asunnot.oikotie.fi. Both of these websites are in Finnish only, so our list of common terms in housing ads from the Renting a flat in Helsinki section will probably come in handy.
Even if you own your own apartment, your building will have rules about things like noise, maintenance and using shared spaces. InfoFinland’s list of rights and obligations of occupants outlines the general expectations you may encounter in an owner-occupied dwelling.
You will find that two forms of home ownership exist in Finland: traditional owner-occupied housing and housing cooperatives.
Real estate transactions are subject to an extra tax in Finland, but first-time home buyers are often exempt. The deed of sale should always be prepared in writing, with one copy for the buyer and another for the seller. Banks and law firms can prepare deeds of sale in exchange for payment, if you are not using a real estate agent.
When it comes to detached houses, there are two forms of property ownership: owning the land and the buildings on it, or owning the building and having a long-term lease agreement with the landowner. This second option is very common in Helsinki, as the city owns most of the land.
As of 2020, citizens of non-EU/EEA countries who wish to buy real estate must receive permission from the state. See the Ministry of Defence website for more details.
In a housing cooperative, you own a property and run it as part of a housing company (asunto-osakeyhtiö or taloyhtiö) along with the other owners. When you buy this kind of housing, you become a shareholder in the company. This means you are expected to participate in regular shareholder meetings to decide on things like rules, maintenance and renovations.
It is very common in Helsinki for housing companies to take out loans to pay for fixing or updating the building. The shareholders (owners) must then pay their share of this loan, which is determined by the size of their unit. Owners pay back this debt in one of two ways: one-time or monthly payments.
It is a good idea to check the renovation schedule before you buy a unit in a housing cooperative. A low price may signal a looming renovation.
You will see two prices when you buy the flat. The selling price (myyntihinta) is what you pay to the former owner. The debt-free selling price (velaton myyntihinta) is the selling price plus the unit’s share of outstanding housing company loans. You can pay this as a one-time payment, or more commonly, as a monthly financing charge. If there is only one asking price, the housing company is either not indebted or will expect you to pay off the loan monthly.
A monthly financing charge (rahoitusvastike) pays back the owners’ share of loan. Most housing companies also have a monthly maintenance charge (hoitovastike). The most common monthly fee is a housing company charge (yhtiövastike), which is a combination of the two.
Read the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority’s helpful facts and advice on housing before you buy a flat or house in Finland.