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Buying Property

Norway - Buying Property

Norway’s property market has risen dramatically over the past twenty years; in many areas prices have more than quadrupled. Whilst the government’s housing policies have successfully encouraged home ownership, high prices now mean younger generations are priced out of the market for longer.

Some areas are more expensive than others. Salaries in Stavanger are higher than the national average and the area also attracts retirees from Norway and beyond who like the location. Oslo is a busy city with some very popular areas whose access to education and employment make them desirable.

If you want to buy a property in Norway, you first need to have your finances in place. The house buying process is a quick and pressured one, so you will not have a chance to secure funding later. Do not start looking at properties until your funds are available or your bank has agreed to loan the required capital.

Since 2011 the “Finanstilsynet” (the Norwegian Financial Services Authority) have prevented banks from lending 100% of a property’s value. You therefore need a deposit of at least 25% of the property’s value in order to apply for a mortgage. The exception to this is first time buyers under the age of 34, who may be permitted a minimum deposit of 15%.

The bank will want to see proof of your earnings, and examine your tax returns. They will also need proof of your identity if you are not current customers.

Once you are sure of your financial standing, you can start to research homes online. Popular websites to start are Eiendomsmeglerguiden and Finn.no. Get a feel for the market, assess what you are looking for and what you could compromise on.

There are a number of different types of real estate agent in Norway. The ones you are most likely to come across are:

• Eiendomsmegler; 3 years' relevant training and at least 2 years' experience
• Eiendomsmeglerfullmektig; 3 years' relevant training but less than 2 years' experience
• Megler; Have worked in the industry for a long time and passed a Finanstilsynet test

Then it is time to attend open viewings, known as a “visning”. Each seller will have signed a contract with their estate agent, who has valued the property and compiled the promotional materials. The open viewings will be pre-arranged and advertised for all interested parties. They are normally held a week or two after the property is listed on the estate agent’s website.

Each visning will last about an hour, and will be held in an evening or at the weekend. They are likely to be busy, as everyone interested in the property will be there at the same time.

You will be given a prospectus for the property, telling you a lot about the house and the area. The “boligsalgsrapport” section will contain a surveyor’s report, which the seller has commissioned in advance of the viewings. It will tell you about the property’s foundations, drainage and roof specifications, and other relevant technical information. The seller will have completed a form (the “egenerklæring”) detailing any problems with the property. They will have also submitted energy efficiency information which is required by law.

All questions have to be addressed in the hour the property is open for viewing. If you like the property, walk round each room again and check everything you feasibly can. You will not get a chance for a second viewing.

Once you have inspected the house you want to buy, time is limited. Leave your name and contact details with the estate agent at the end of the viewing.

By noon on the day following the last open house viewings, all bids must have been accepted. You cannot make a bid after that time unless the seller allows it - and even then it will be an extension of minutes rather than hours, usually on the basis of a new bid. The estate agent is likely to call you several times before the noon deadline if they think you may be interested in making an offer.

If the seller does not receive any bids or does not receive an offer they are happy with, they may decide to offer another viewing day. This is, however, exceptional.

By law, each bid must be made in writing and by the noon deadline.

The bid is legally binding. If you withdraw after your bid is accepted, you will face stiff penalties, regardless of the reasons why. This is why your financing needs to be in place at the very start of the process.

The bid form will usually be included in the property brochure. You will need to submit information about the mortgage you have been offered, so that the estate agent can directly check this with your bank.

As the morning progresses and bids come in, the estate agent will keep texting to ask for a higher bid. Your texted replies are legally binding. You may feel you are under pressure to put in a higher offer, but do not go over your affordable limit.

By the afternoon everyone will be aware of the winning bid. If you have been successful, you will be asked for your preferred completion date. This can be within two weeks if you want.

You will then be emailed a draft contract, and you will need to visit your bank again to confirm the mortgage loan. You will need to confirm the term of the loan, the interest rate option, and arrange relevant insurance in case of the unexpected event of illness or death.

You will then attend a completion meeting. The seller will also be present. Once everyone is happy with the terms of the contract, both parties will sign.

You will then pay the deposit for the property.

There is usually stamp duty (“dokumentsavgift”) to pay on the property purchase, but some properties are exempt. These include a “borettslag” property, which is based on a housing collective model.

You will then meet the seller at the property, where you will be given all sets of the keys.

If you fall into financial difficulty in your new home because of a significant change in your circumstances, help may be available from the local municipal area. But you should not rely on this being sufficient or long term. It is important to consider how you would cope with a change in income before you submit bids for a property purchase.

Should you want to do things a little differently, by building a new house or renovating an older property, the Norwegian State Housing Bank may be able to help. Husbank, as it is known, has strict criteria about the grants and loans it can make, but is happy to provide full information to applicants.

Read more about this country

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