An apartment is a cave where we always want to return back. The place where we recharge emotionally and physically by adjusting everything according to our needs. That is why even the most luxurious hotel will never be the one for you, since there is no emotional attachment exists with it.
In Nordics people and housing communities take a really good care of keeping the houses neat. Despite the high repair costs that can end up in 1000 euros per square meter, a 50 year old house can look 30 years younger after renovation. In Finland, it is called “putki-remontti” that means “the renovation of pipes”. This procedure can take several months, but closer to the date of renovation the cost of the apartment drops significantly.
Buying either new or old apartment is less stressful in Nordics where either the broker or housing company takes care of the papers. However, more difficult part is to choose your future apartment. I try to mention several things that I consider to be important while choosing a new apartment.
First, you need to be honest with yourself and understand do you need to choose an apartment for investment purposes (and sell/rent it in the nearest future) or for leaving yourself there. If you decide to buy an apartment for yourself and family, then you prioritize more your own needs. Particularly, you might prioritize what suits your needs (e.g. size and location) and bother less about the attractiveness in terms of location (that is one of the crucial factors while investing). For example, for investment it is better to buy smaller apartments of one/two rooms and with a good transportation. On the other hand, for you it might be more vital to have an additional room for the same price, but located further. While selecting an apartment for living there, you need to select it subjectively and to have an inner “yes” from your heart. In this article I share some tips for those who are considering buying a new apartment in Helsinki area, all the information is based on personal experience and is not supported by any of the construction companies
An important step to do first is to find your favorite construction companies. Some of the companies are larger-scale, like YIT, Skanska, Bonava, WestPro, Peab, SRV others are smaller and family-scale, like Jatke, Lapti, Hausia, Varte, JM. Recently, Bonava started to plan really nice houses and in new areas, like Suurpelto, Espoo and Kuninkaantammi, Helsinki where the prices are more than reasonable. WestPro offers business class apartments with high-quality materials often near the sea with large windows and wooden balconies. YIT has a large share on the market, builds many houses and is originally a finnish company. Among smaller construction companies my favourite is Hausia, a family-owned business by people who worked in large companies and gained enough experience to start their own construction business. What makes them different are good materials and furniture included in the basic price. Yes, finnish apartments usually come with a ready to move in condition with a kitchen and a toilet. That is truly amazing that the only thing you need to do is to bring some furniture and you can enjoy your new flat.
For example, Hausia offers by default a parquet floor, large balconies with wooden walls, Siemens equipment ( it is a highest class of quality), Novart kitchen and wardrobe ( a high-quality kitchen furniture) and free underground parking space.
The best windows are offered by T2H, who offer panoramic windows that start almost from the floor. Besides Pallas Rakennus builds a really nice project in Vuosaari with panoramic windows and large balconies as shown below in the picture.
Thus, every company has its own price segment and the choice of materials that you can get familiar with. Usually with time they keep updating the materials they use. It means one can except for upcoming apartments to have a similar selection. Another company that offers interesting projects with a possibility to buy the land is Peab and SRV. The reason is why you might prefer Peab is because when you have a little bit larger budget you can buy an apartment with owned land (that means you do not need to pay extra fee for renting the land that can be slightly lower than maintaining fee) for a reasonable price. Peab does not have as much housing projects as YIT, but people are very quick with reserving their apartments. Lapti company also sells apartments with owned land and offers a good quality. To conclude, it is really good to know the market and the companies whom you trust building your future apartment.
So once you know the construction companies, you can be ready to follow future houses to be built. If you are subscribed by either an individual future project or the construction company, you can be the first one to reserve the future apartment. Believe me, you can save 10-20K from the apartment cost by reserving the desired apartment during the presales time, “ennakkomarkinointi” in finnish. The saving can come from reserving an apartment located in the lower floors, since the price increases drastically with higher floors. The companies notify presales time and day during which one need to call by phone to reserve the apartment. Believe me, there are lots of people who want to reserve lower floors and one room apartment so make sure you call immediately after the presale starts. Later after reservation you can pay a deposit and make your final decision later. So in case you change you mind, they just return the money back. Presales period usually lasts several months, after which the sale starts.
While you are following future projects, it is good to understand the areas where you would like to live. For new apartments, you need to be flexible since mostly new areas are used for building. For example, in Munkkuniemi there were no new houses built for some time, except recently that Skanska started to build one house there. Explore the areas you are interested, come there and if you want to understand who will be your neighbors, come to the closest shop at a busy time and you can get the picture. Sometimes, the expectation does not meet the reality, like it was for me with Soukka centre in Espoo. The areas that seem attractive to me are Hiekkaharju, Vantaa (close to the centre by train, very calm area), Henttaa, Ymmersta and Suurpelto in Espoo. Those places have a good connection to the center, peaceful and are not yet hyped. Ymmersta is located at the next train station after Kauniainen (the place where one can not afford easily to buy an apartment due to special status of the area) and it takes 20 minutes to reach city center from there. Suurpelto and Henttaa are new areas in Espoo, the atmosphere there is nice and there is a large forest nearby along with a small shopping centre. Besides those regions, Kannelmaki in Helsinki will be more expensive in the future. In Vantaa, there is a high risk of airplane noise that can be checked from here. In Martinlaakso e.g., one can count several planes in a minute that makes it harder to open the windows and enjoy the silence. That is why in Vantaa in general the apartments cost cheaper due to airplane traffic. E.g. in Kuninkantaammi one can see airplanes, but much less than in Martinlaakso. In new area Kivisto, Vantaa it is calm now and one can not see airplanes but there is some passive slowly recognizable noise that I could hear while being there. Wherever you are leaving there will be something to sacrifice, either with more expensive price or the absence of facilities, so that is why it is important to set the right priorities in the first place
I hope this article makes some points more clear to you and make you closer to YOUR apartment.