A Modern Four-Bedroom on Norway’s Southern Shores
$1.9 MILLION (17 MILLION NORWEGIAN KRONER)
This four-bedroom home sits on a hillside in the town of Stavern, a popular summer destination on the Vestfold coast in southern Norway. Designed by the architect Rune Breili and built in 2016, the 3,423-square-foot house has many energy-saving features, including solar panels, smart-house wiring, LED lighting and under-floor heating.
The glass-fronted upper level and rooftop terrace offer panoramic views of Larviksfjorden, a five-mile-long fjord that takes its name from the nearby town of Larvik. At least four lighthouses can be seen from the main suite upstairs, said Knut Leinaes, a broker and partner with Leinaes & Partners, which has the listing.
A granite staircase leads to the main entrance, which is sheltered by an Accoya wood enclosure. The wood, also used for much of the home’s exterior, is treated to be extra durable.
The door opens into a tiled foyer and hallway. To the right is the open living area, with oak parquet floors, white walls and, at its center, a glass-walled staircase with wood steps that appear to float. A small dining area is set up at one end of the room, and a bigger dining table and living room are on the opposite side. Sliding glass doors open onto a terrace that runs the length of the house.
The kitchen, situated against a side wall, has custom furnishings by Multiform, a Danish kitchen crafter, with sleek white cabinetry and an island with a recessed induction cooktop. A glass door opens onto a large patio with a covered barbecue station.
A hallway leads to three bedrooms, all of which have access to the terrace. The bedrooms share a large bathroom with glossy tile flooring and a vaulted ceiling with skylight.
A second living room on the upper level maximizes the water views through a wall of 13-foot floor-to-ceiling windows. Doors on either side of the room open onto separate roof terraces. Opposite the living room is the main suite, with a similar wall of windows (this one with electric blackout blinds), a dressing room and a bath with a vessel sink and large walk-in shower. A free-standing soaking tub is positioned near the windows in the bedroom.
The home’s lower level, with a family room, wine cellar, half bath, laundry room and storage area, can be accessed from the attached two-car garage.
The 0.19-acre property has ornamental plantings set amid natural rock outcroppings. Located on a cul-de-sac in a residential neighborhood, the house is about a mile from several beaches, as well as the shops, restaurants and cafes of Stavern, Mr. Leinaes said. TORP Sandefjord Airport is about a 25-minute drive northeast.
Stavern’s population of roughly 5,000 swells dramatically in the summer with vacationers, many of whom live in greater Oslo, about 90 minutes away, Mr. Leinaes said. In addition to the beaches, attractions include a historic naval base that now houses art galleries and museums, and a coastal path that follows the water for more than 20 miles, ending in the town of Helgeroa.
Norway’s housing market has been nearly flat in recent years, with modest annual price growth of around 3 percent, said Henning Lauridsen, chief executive of Eiendom Norge, a national association of real estate brokerages. But as the country has eased its coronavirus restrictions, the market has become more heated.
As of early September, average sale prices were up 4.3 percent countrywide over a year ago, with the population center of Oslo showing a 6 percent increase. Mr. Lauridsen attributed the stronger price growth to a spike in demand driven by historically low mortgage interest rates of around 1.5 percent. The Norwegian central bank has lowered its key interest rate several times this year to stimulate economic activity amid the pandemic.
The low rates further fueled activity in what is always a busy August market, he said: “Most people here take their summer holiday in July, so before the summer holiday there is a lot of activity in the housing market, and the same thing happens in August.”
Like much of the world, Norway saw a sharp drop-off in home sales during the spring as the government shut down the economy. Sales began to turn around in May, and last month the 9,964 homes sold set a record for the month of August, according to data from Eiendom Norge.
As of Sept. 14, Norway, with a population of 5.4 million, had 12,277 reported cases of Covid-19 and 265 deaths — by far the lowest rate of death per capita in Scandinavia — according to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
In 2019, existing detached homes in Norway sold for an average of 25,691 kroners a square meter ($265 a square foot), according to the latest data from Statistics Norway, the country’s national statistics institute. New homes sold for an average 37,417 kroners a square meter ($385 a square foot). In Oslo, an existing home averaged 61,729 kroners a square meter ($635 a square foot).
Price pressure is higher in Oslo, the waterside capital with about 700,000 residents, because of a growing population and insufficient housing supply, Mr. Lauridsen said. The number of completed detached houses in the Oslo area fell to an eight-year low in 2019, according to Statistics Norway, while newly completed multidwelling buildings slipped in 2019 after several years of increases.
The city’s teeming market has made bidding wars more common, said Anders Nykkelmo Solem, the general manager and a partner at PrivatMegleren Gamle Oslo. His agency recently hosted an open house for a two-bedroom apartment in the increasingly trendy east side of Oslo that attracted 160 people. “The asking price was 4.1 million kroners ($453,000), and it ended up going for more than 5 million,” he said.
Apartments in one of the newer residential developments on the east side or close to the city center go for much more, fetching closer to 100,000 kroners a square meter ($1,025 a square foot), he said.
The country’s leisure-home market is also very strong, with seaside and mountain locations reporting record sales, Mr. Lauridsen said. “This summer very few Norwegians traveled out of the country; most stayed at home,” he said. “So many are buying cottages instead of going to Paris or New York or other places they used to go.”
Who Buys in Norway
The vast majority of buyers are Norwegian, or have some sort of work or family connection to Norway, Mr. Leinaes said.
In Oslo, foreign buyers tend to come from Sweden, Denmark and, at the very high end, China, Mr. Solem said.
“But 90 to 95 percent of buyers are Norwegian, and right now a lot of young people in their 20s are buying because of the interest rates,” he said. “We’ve never seen this before.”
There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in Norway, and mortgages are available to foreigners from Norwegian banks, Mr. Lauridsen said. Foreigners must apply to the government for a national identity number before buying.
One real estate agent works on behalf of both buyer and seller, and is legally obligated to protect the rights of both, Mr. Lauridsen said. The seller pays the commission of 1.5 to 2.5 percent. Lawyers are not commonly involved in purchase transactions.
Languages and Currency
Norwegian; Norwegian kroner (1 kroner = $0.11)
Taxes and Fees
Buyers pay a stamp duty tax of 2.5 percent of the sales price.
Annual municipal property taxes on this home are about 11,633 kroner ($1,285), Mr. Leinaes said. Property owners must also pay a national wealth tax of 0.85 percent of the home’s estimated market value if their net wealth exceeds certain thresholds.
Knut Leinaes, Leinaes & Partners, 011-47-920-53-533; www.partners.no