• Mon. Mar 20th, 2023

Evaluation: Sweden faces recession as housing market place troubles take toll on economy


Mar 16, 2023
  • Swedish economy anticipated to shrink in 2023
  • Households reduce spending as mortgage fees rise
  • Housing begins noticed collapsing
  • Challenges with housing market place not simply fixed

STOCKHOLM, March 15 (Reuters) – For years, Sweden has been warned that its dysfunctional housing market place, plagued by below-provide and kept aloft by low prices and generous tax advantages, was a threat to the wider economy.

Now these dangers are becoming reality. Households with significant mortgages are reining in spending as interest prices rise, and home-builders are pulling the plug on investment, tipping Sweden into recession.

The nation is set to be the only EU economy experiencing outright recession this year. The crown is trading at about its weakest level against the euro given that the worldwide economic crisis, partly due to housing market place worries, producing the central bank’s job of curbing inflation a lot more tough.

“It really is not that no 1 saw this coming,” Riksbank Governor Erik Thedeen stated at the finish of February. “The Riksbank has warned about this … for a lengthy time. And now it is clear that it is a trouble.”

Just after years of ultra-low borrowing fees, the pandemic and the Ukraine war have served up a toxic cocktail of higher inflation and swiftly increasing interest prices to lots of nations.

But in Sweden, the structural difficulties rooted in its housing market place are magnifying the effects.

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Home costs in Sweden have practically quadrupled in the final 20 years, simply outstripping wage development, boosted by generous mortgage tax relief, practically non-existent genuine estate taxes and a rental market place with restricted provide mainly because of tight regulations.

Debt levels are amongst the highest in the European Union at about 200% of disposable incomes, significantly of which is mortgage debt. And about 60% of Swedes have floating-price mortgages, which means price increases have an instant effect on the majority of households.

Banking group Nordea (NDAFI.HE) expects household consumption to fall about two% in 2023, although the National Board of Housing expects housing begins to fall about 50% in the coming year compared with 2021.

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Several property-owners are currently struggling with greater mortgage repayments alongside surging meals and power costs – even even though the complete effects of interest price rises more than the final year have however to be felt.

Philippa Logan, a single mother of two, purchased her 89 square meter (958 square feet) apartment in Ostberga in the south of Stockholm in 2017 and paid off some of the mortgage right after acquiring divorced in 2020.

“Nonetheless, in the final handful of months, the interest price has practically tripled producing it practically unaffordable to survive,” Logan stated.

“The strain has been indescribable,” she stated, adding she had been forced to take on added perform to make ends meet.

The central bank expects additional price increases in the coming months. Markets anticipate borrowing fees to peak at four%, up from three% at present.

“Our forecast is for the Riksbank to raise prices to three.75 as a peak,” Gustav Helgesson, economist at Nordea stated. “I assume at that level we are really close to some sort of discomfort threshold for households.”


The European Commission expects Sweden’s gross domestic item to contract by about 1% this year – the only nation in the 27-member bloc probably to see damaging annual development.

Nordea expects GDP to contract by about two%.

Home costs are down about 15% given that their peak in spring final year, a larger drop than through the worldwide economic crisis. Some regions have knowledgeable a fall of as significantly as 40%, the genuine estate division of insurer Lansforsakringar stated.

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Even though Sweden is not alone in seeing significant home cost falls, its households are practically uniquely sensitive to interest price hikes mainly because a lot more than half have floating price mortgages.

In Germany, for instance, most borrowers have fixed mortgages and increasing prices have largely been shrugged off.

“No, we never have any worry with the mortgages,” stated Hannah, a teacher in the city of Bochum, in the west of the nation, whose joint mortgage with her companion is fixed at .9%.

“We have 15 years to spend back and it was all planned in a way that we could spend back even if interest prices rose,” she stated.

In Canada, although debt levels are higher, variable price mortgages only account for about 1-third of total outstanding mortgage debt, according to the Bank of Canada.

Even though some economists predict a mild recession in Canada, the OECD assume tank expects the Canadian economy will develop about 1.three% in 2023.


Sweden’s housing difficulties date back decades, but have confirmed difficult to repair.

Plans to ease rent controls have been fiercely opposed by the political left which believes introducing market place forces would boost social division by pricing lots of individuals out of desirable places of Sweden’s cities.

All the key political parties agree an overhaul of mortgage tax relief is necessary, but none are ready to give their rivals a stick to beat them with when elections come about.

Reintroducing a house tax, abolished in 2008, is noticed as one more confident-fire vote-loser.

Monetary regulators have introduced tougher lending practices and tightened mortgage repayment guidelines. Sweden’s banks are amongst the most strongly capitalised in Europe – partly as a outcome of worries about the housing market place.

These ought to protect against falling genuine estate costs from triggering a economic meltdown as occurred in Sweden in the early 1990s.

But Sweden’s economy is probably to stay a hostage to imbalances in the housing market place although its structural difficulties go unresolved.

“It really is up to the politicians to choose regardless of whether they want to deal with these difficulties and, a lot more than something, when,” Nordea’s Helgesson stated. “In the existing scenario, it is really difficult to tackle them.”

($1 = ten.6895 Swedish crowns)

Reporting by Simon Johnson, further reporting by Maiya Keidan and Fergal Smith in Toronto, Anna Koper in Warsaw and Maria Martinez in Berlin. Editing by Jane Merriman

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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