Sprucing up a Paper Stack
Plaza Magazine

List No.8: House Hunting Frustrations



I haven’t mentioned house hunting until this past week but I’ve been looking for a while already. In the beginning not so much to actually be prepared to bid because we hadn’t made a firm decision to sell but to get an idea of what’s out there in my price bracket. Not a whole lot unfortunately.

This week’s list is about what frustrates me when it comes to house hunting. In no particular order (it’s all very frustrating):

* Most of the properties in my price range are newer condominium type homes where you pay a lower price but a high “rent”. Also there are often pet restrictions.

* When the starting price on a property is set low to lure you in to view and bid: Please spare us that agony sellers!

* When the listing goes up two weeks prior to the view date? Why??? Are the sellers too lazy to prepare the viewing of the house in a week or what? The wait is agony.

* When said houses sell before the two week wait… It’s happened to me a few times already. One house we planned to view in an open house on Sunday sold on Saturday… (scrambled photo above).


mosaik 3


* Wide angle lenses making everything look really spacious and when you arrive it’s really super poky.

* Photo shopped images where everything looks really clean and tidy and on arrival you notice it’s dingy and scuffed.

* The other potential buyers who look smug, rich and confident.

* Meeting with the bank to get approved for a loan. Nerve-wracking and frustrating since half the time I don’t 100% get what they’re saying. I’m so not good with numbers or interest rates nor am I that interested. I know what I can spend and I promise to pay you back, ok?!

* Bidding. OMG. My stomach is in knots most days anyway because of my IBS but this bidding business is so not helping (scrambled photo above…).

* Speaking of bidding and bidders; Please hurry up people! Why so slowly? Get on with it. Make up your minds, are you in or are you out?

That’s how I feel about it. What’s your experience house hunting?

Ps. Happy Friday!

Pps. Oops! I did it again. I accidentally posted this last night (in case you recognize it). See what house hunting does to me!!


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Benita ~ Chez Larsson

I did consider buying Martin out but the cost of living would be so high and I already have a fairly well payed job. Living in Stockholm is VERY expensive.

Siv Jane Aksdal

Just wondering. Ever consider looking for a better paying job, and staying in your current house? I'm sure with all the success your blog has had there are a few people out there that would like to put you on their payroll!!




There are no possibilities to rent in Stockholm, unless you've been in the"queue/waiting line" for at least 20 years. Sorry to say!


Hey Benita,
We live in Malmö right now but will mostly likely be moving to Sthlm this coming summer. Since we both just finished university our budget is very tight. I'm not sure if we'll find what we're looking for but my fingers are crossed.
Good luck to you!

Siv Jane Aksdal

We spent 2 years looking before buying our house in norway. At the end we were 9 months pregnant and desperate to get out into a house. So we ended up buying a massive fixer upper. It was so frustrating. Not finding anything we liked or getting it snatched out from under your nose. Grrr.... I think my best advise would be to be aggressive, if you see something you like don't be scared to contact the broker. Get an early viewing and make an offer pre open house if you like it!! That is often what it takes to get the good houses. And keep a cool head when bidding. You don't want to get stuck in a house for eternity waiting for property prices to grow past what you ended up paying.
Oh and watch out for those banks. Don't fall for the only pay the interest and no down payment option. Not a good idea!!!


Don't know if you have the extremely pushy realtors at the open houses. We're looking to see what we want when to buy after our home sells - it goes on the market in a few weeks - just want to get a feel for different areas, what's important to us in a home, what you can get for how much etc. Which you can't do with someone following you around, trying to figure out how much you're worth. Why would anyone think that being so obnoxious would make you want to do business with them? Good luck with your house hunt! Susan in Oregon

Bathroom Mirrors

Sorry to know that your frustrated. Don't worry you will own them soon. Just strive hard.


you have such a gift for making a home for all of us here in cyberspace -- i am constructing your simple window curtain for my house here in new mexico. i know you will find and make a home with ease, and if it takes longer or you have to rent, martin will help and be a prince about it.


Wishing you luck! You have the gift in seeing the potential in things other people put into the recycle bins at work! :)

I know you'll find just the right home for you and Willie (and the cats) at just the right price!

~ Ali

Benita ~ Chez Larsson

Our house is in one of the most popular areas in Stockholm and for it to be fair I'd need to play market value and that's way more than if I'd buy my own place.

Don't fret though. There's some exciting development, I'll tell you all about it next week!

Benita ~ Chez Larsson

There's no rental market in Stockholm unfortunately. Rental places are super hard to come by.


Have you considered renting for awhile? Focus on selling your house for the price you want and live for 6-12 months in a cool part of town where you probably wouldn't live permanently but would be fun while you're looking for "the place." I find when I'm not under pressure to make something big happen immediately, things often fall perfectly into place. Best wishes. Susan in Soggy San Diego


Bettina, would it be possible to buy Martin out and then work your job more, or a second job, to afford the costs of the house you now live in? I recall that you said that a reason for not doing this is that you would not be able to eat - i.e. the house costs would consume other expenses - but I wonder if there's a way to manage this and avoid moving.

And is there such a pressure on you to do this immediately? I think you ought to take your time, even if it takes a year, not matter what the pressure from outside.

I feel for you because you are also doing this alone, trying to work for you and Willie, making all these changes, adjusting to a new type of life. You're a strong woman but it can't be easy.


You will find THE one eventually. Don't settle!


I love this story! And you're right Benita does have that asset -- when I look back to what her current home was before. . .. I wish I had that kind of "sight"!!

Courage Benita! (as they say here in France)


Aw Benita, keep perservering. Your dream house is out there waiting for you, and when you find it it will be worth all that frustration!

When you do have to move out of your house?


None of my biz, but I can't understand why Martin isn't "keen" on the idea of you buying him out. How is your money any different from anyone else's?

I can totally understand why YOU don't want to do it, though.

To me, the whole home buying/moving process is a huge pain. I'm not truly happy till I've lived in a home at least a year and gotten the absolute-must-dos out of the way.

Hang in...it'll be so worth it in a little while. :)


Thanks Benita!

"(215 000 Euros/296 000 USD) but the fee was almost 6000 kronor (680 Euros/ 940 USD) a month."

Wow your aera is really not cheap. It is lots of money for suburb. And the rent is huge!!!


Hi from California. We are still waiting to hear back from the bank if they accepted our full price offer made two weeks ago! Short sales are very frustrating. Hang in there and think of how much fun you and Wille will have decorating your new place in the Spring...X

Benita ~ Chez Larsson

It means you don't actually own the house but own a share in the condominium complex. You are in charge of the inside of your home but the outside is cared for and you pay a fee for maintenance of everything. I considered a place that cost only 1.9 million Swedish kronor (215 000 Euros/296 000 USD) but the fee was almost 6000 kronor (680 Euros/ 940 USD) a month.

Benita ~ Chez Larsson


Robyn :)

We are planning to start house hunting either in the fallhe following summer. First we need to sell my mom's house to get some money for the downpayment. Then my hubby has to get out of the army. We may rent for a year, first.

Anyway, I am sure the process will be just as frustrating over here. We know what we want. Surely there is an affordable house that has it all!!


Umm, I meant home. :)

Vicki K

When we were in the market, it took one year to make many offers and counter offers on 4 different houses and finally end up with the house we have. Once after we made an offer on one of the houses, the sellers actually said to our broker, "If we sell our house to them, where will WE live?" Can you believe that? Don't you think they might have thought that would be the result of putting their home on the market?

Months later, when they really decided to sell, we ended up buying that very house.

On the other hand, it seems like selling your home will be not so prolonged. And it should get a great price!


"type homes where you pay a lower price but a high “rent”."

What does it mean? High maintaing costs?

Benita ~ Chez Larsson

I considered that but 1) Martin wasn't keen on the idea, 2) this area is very pricey and I could barely afford it (our house will probably sell at almost about twice the price I'm hoping to pay) and 3) I'd love a new place, one of my own :)


I agree with you...the house hunting process is STRESSFUL and confusing and the best way to describe it is a roller coaster of emotions that you want off as quickly as possible! I can't stand when it when a house I love turns into a bidding war and sells for way over the listing price! So disappointing!

Hoping you find the right place quickly! :)

~ Ali

Benita ~ Chez Larsson

Over here there are no buyers agents. It's unheard of but only last week I read about a Swedish guy who's a real estate agent in New York and who's starting a business in Stockholm offering just that service.


It's always a difficult process to look for and buy a house. If you like where you live, why not get the financing to buy out your ex-husband and stay there? But maybe you want to try something new.... Good luck!


When I was looking, I scanned listings almost every day and then intensively every weekend and drove by properties that looked promising (in my price range and in a neighborhood that was within my criteria). I went to open houses if the property passed my drive by test or it was near to a house I was already looking at.

I was in a perpetual state of information overload -- feeling like I wasn't prepared to choose or make a decision on a mortgage or how to make an offer and the real estate agents really weren't any help (they are biased to nudge you to make an offer at a higher price so they can get their percentage).

However I did get some consolation by regularly telling myself that all of the time I was spending was a good education in what I did and didn't like, what I should look for and ask about when evaluating properties. I kept a sectioned binder of information on the properties, on the neighborhoods, on how to evaluate all the different costs of buying. I also took a city sponsored one day class for first time buyers and bought and read a couple books about how to buy a house.

Definitely take the mindset of being a student for the financial part -- it takes time to understand what all the expenses are in a purchase and loan and taxes and I underestimated the amount of time it would take to become more familiar with all of this - though after a couple months I was able to use worksheets from the books to estimate affordability and expenses. Don't give up - just keep at it!

While it was still very stressful, and before and during the closing was like studying for exams every night for weeks, insomnia and nausea, it is a temporary endurance test. You have substantial talents in organizing information and I'm sure you will also have clarity about committing to a purchase offer when you see something that you *know* will be a good home for you. Just remember to ask questions throughout the loan application process and offer -- most people buying a property are "amateurs" without previous experience so the bankers and seller agents are accustomed to answering all sorts of questions and it's their job to inform you as part of the process -- don't hesitate to ask when you don't understand something.

We are all rooting for you :-)


We ended up buying the only house I didn't want to look at, based on the internet photos. This was the only house waaaaay better then the photos where the others looked great but in real life were awful. We had an agent who knew our needs and insisted we look at this one and it turned out to be the one we wanted. Good luck. Hopefully you have some time for being patient and the timing will work out for you. Take care.


My experience house hunting was a bit different. My biggest complaint was the misleading pictures of the outdoors. I resorted to looking up all the listings my agent sent me on Google Earth and Zillow, so I could see how the property was laid out and if in fact the yard was the size I wanted (and not dominated by a giant swimming pool).

Good luck with your house hunt. I hope you find a hope you will love.


I completely agree with the photo frustration! We are looking for a new rental unit & we do lots of initial searching online. Although the pictures look good, when you get to the house you always notice the landlord has strategically left out the half peeling up counter top or the scratched beyond repair floors. Sometimes even the cracked and broken tiles are hidden. These wouldn't be a huge deal if we were looking to buy because we could change everything, but being renters, we have to live with these ugly extras. Hang in there, it will be over before you know it & you'll be styling your new house!!

sadie ash

Hope your hunt turns around soon! Sometimes, if you have an agent looking for you, you can see the listings early. Agents can get into broker listings when the public cant. We had a agent that kept a look at in the areas we wanted, and that is how we found our house. Whatever happens...Good Luck! You will find the right place and it will be magical. Like falling in love!

P.S. if you can, always offer as much cash as you can and a short close.

Erin Kleider

When we started house hunting the first time, I thought I would love the process of seeing inside all of those homes and imagining myself inside them. BUT:
No. 1 We couldn't afford to look at the really pretty homes.
No. 2 I found it really painful to week after week fall in love with a home, imagine myself in it, imagine my children toddling across the floor, imagine who would get what bedroom and where I'd put my furniture, only to have someone outbid us, because 2nd runner up means very little when you're house hunting.
No. 3 (And watch out for this one) Discovering all of the little things that weren't disclosed that should have been.

erin lang norris

Aw, I'm sorry to hear how frustrating this is. I know that it's very frustrating and I also know how it is to have health things that get worse with added stress. :(

I am very fortunate to have a numbers guy husband who likes data and fact type details. I myself couldn't be any further from liking any of those things, mostly because I don't understand them and don't care to understand them (since it's so confusing and stressful to me.)

The worst part about house hunting is that you can't really take your time, even though everybody says to take your time...

I guess the only advice I have is to not fall in love with any homes (which I'm sure you are doing just fine at) and to just go with the flow. We had all sorts of bank problems and our loan person didn't call to tell us because she actually got fired and so we had to start from square one since none of the documentation could be obtained.

House buying is a pain in the ass, but hang in there. You have a great vision and can see well through the cosmetic grunge. And even IF a space looks smaller than in the photos, I'm sure you'd make a great small space living candidate. You have a way of making things work. :)


OMG, I couldn't do the bidding thing for a house!
It is already stressful on ebay for small things.

In Germany, Italy, China and Thailand bidding is not that popular yet, although I have heard that some are doing it in Germany.
Usually there is ONE price and if you like the property, you will try to get the price down. As an average sqm price for the area is known for new and old constructions, you have a feeling about how much negotiation is possible.

I think this is much more relaxing for buyers.
While for sellers, the bidding might be the better way to get most out of it.

Good luck ! Hope you will find the right home for the right price.
take care
Suzie (from Palazzo Pizzo)


We have that meeting with the bank in an hour: and I agree: my ears turn of when speak interest rates, I just can't listen. And I admit: there is a reason why I did not study economics.... :)
Trevlig helg och happy bidding!


I agree with Susan: Keep asking to see the house before others, someone will agree! As they say: Keep calm and carry on! Good luck!

Monica Bernpaintner

I feel so sorry for you and everyone else house hunting in the "posh" suburbs of Stockholm! When we paid 1,8 million SEK for our not-so-fancy house from 1978 in Segeltorp in 2000 I thought the amount of money was just ridiculous! I could never have imagined that our house today would be worth around 4 million... This estate bubble just keep getting bigger.

Your biggest asset (without knowing you) in this house hunting project must be your ability to see great possibilities in not so great houses. When we were house hunting I never even considered this house (The Hemnet pictures showed a brick red house with black trims, yuck. Btw, it still looks the same...), but after having seen crammed semi attached boxes in Täby, miniature old, charming houses with mildew stains in Bromma and boring houses with plastic window trims in Huddinge, we had to try to find something. My husband decided that we should at least take a look at this house. We got here, our then four-year-old son sat down and said "This is our house!", I was impressed by the house plan, my husband liked that it was close to a nature reserve and so we bought the house... So, here we are, still happy in this home of ours! I think your story will end "And so they lived Happily Ever After" too. Good luck!

Petit Filoux

My boyfriend and I have just started and it's a pain already! Really exciting at times, but then like you say, there are real cases of "false advertising" and places going before we've even been able to view them... infuriating!! We don't seem to have this bidding thing going on in England though, so I'm grateful!


Hi Benita! Try not to worry so. All will be well. I have faith in you and your ability to get things done. The perfect home awaits I am sure.


Oh, and of course I wish you good luck with your hunting!

And about selling: we're showing our apartment before the open house, but it's not even out on Hemnet yet and will not be for another month or so according to the plan, so if we sell now the other potential buyers will not now that it's been for sale. Easy for us, no stress for them :)

Maureen@Notes on a Visual Life

I can't imagine having to HOUSE hunt. Hunting for apartments (in Los Angeles) is a nightmare in and of itself. Many tears were shed during my search for the place I have now. Very stressful when you have a deadline to be out of one place and settled in another. But at least it's easier than hunting in NYC.

Good luck and hang in there!


Tell me about it! We're safe now, because we paid the "handpenning" this Tuesday, but everything else? Totally frustrating! But I'm not frustrated by the others looking rich, I get frustrated if they bring children and/or are pregnant. Because who is in more need of a house? Dinkies or growing families?

And the bidding, oh my, that was pure agony for over a week! One of the others placed a bid within thirty seconds if someone else placed a bid, for the first couple of days. And after that they were sloooooooooow.

Our meeting with the bank was awful too, but that was because we got the impression that WE were the smart ones... wouldn't want to let our bank contact handle our money!


Benita, don't worry you will find a dream house. Here we have an option, we can buy a properties on bailiff auction. They are cheap but need complete restauration.

Rattling On

Here in England (and Wales, but not Scotland)we buy differently. You make the vendor an offer and they decide straight away. Auctions and bidding are unusual and open house events are almost unheard of!!
Most estate agents (realtors) have websites where you can take a virtual look round. We bought our current house via the internet and we hadn't even seen it in real life as we were living abroad. Fortunately it's fine. I also once moved into a house that I had only seen from the outside, my husband had been in though! (We've moved a lot...)
I hope you find somewhere that fits the things you need (and want) at the right price. That's the really hard part. Good Luck!


hej benita! i'm following your househunting attentively. we've just sold and bought about 6 months ago (we don't live far from you, actually) and the excitement and frustrations are still very fresh in my mind. your comment to anna is exactly what happened to us. we put our house in the market about 2 weeks before the open house because we wanted to give people a chance to see the advert and turn up. i was absolutely shocked about the number of people (like 4 or 5!) who called to ask to see it before the open house. it felt a little sneaky allowing them to do this, but as you say, from a sellers perspective if we could sell the thing quickly and without having to go through the drama (trauma!) of holding an open house that would be well worth it to us. we got a very fair offer right off the bat and for us, fair was good enough for us. we may have been able to have gotten more money from an open house, but maybe not, and when we got a reasonable offer from people that seemed trustworthy we went for it. i can totally understand that buyers HATE this. but the lesson is that if you see soemthing you truly think has potential for you to get on that phone and call the broker. just like you are doing now.

good luck! sending all kinds of good vibes!

Benita ~ Chez Larsson

We have hemnet.se where 95% of all properites are being shown with photos, plans, maps etc. You can sign up for quite specific searches and get e-mail updates so it's a great tool when househunting.


A lot of the houses here in Finland are also sold before the first view. We didn't know that at first, as we found a perfect little house for us and were excited to get to the view. Well, we were only told (in a very unfriendly manner in front of the house) "There's no view today, it's sold already". But in the end, we did find a nice place for us, it just took a lot of nerves, sleepless nights and a lot of time! Good luck for your hunt, Benita!


Oh, sorry that it has been so totally frustrating for you. We didn't go through a bidding process, but all the (bad/disappointing) viewings and bank stuff was =:o. We almost bought a nice house in a town that we really didn't want to live in, but then a piece of property that we had applied for came through and we ended up building. Wishing you much luck and restful weekend!


It is the worst, but like having a baby, you forget the true horror quite quickly after you have moved in and start on the 'nice stuff'.

Good luck if you are looking again this weekend.

Do you have websites that show all the homes with all agents that are available? We have Rightmove.co.uk which means you can locate most houses for sale, see the plans and some photos, Google Earth and Streetview 24/7.

We took the decision to find the perfect location and hope there was a suitable home in the vicinity - we got very lucky in the end, and to be honest we would have bought anything, no matter what state it was in, as long as it had enough rooms and a garden, just to move to the village we had dreamed of in time to apply for the girls to start school in September. So glad it is over now!


househunting is frustrating.... we didnt hunt for our new house. it was there, already for sale for 2 years and we loved it but took the time and did get a great deal and had all the luck of the world because al the potential buyer before us where too scared..... it needed TLC.... a LOT of TLC :)))) our own house was sold in 3 weeks to the viewers of the neighbours house that was also for sale.... ours was better ;) with al that luck still buying a house, selling a house was frustrating because of al the rules with banks and so.... goodluck with your hunt!!!!

Benita ~ Chez Larsson

Might be... :)

With the market being as it is now a lot of buyers do just that, call the agent and ask to see the house and place a bid before a lot of other buyers have a chance to see it. From a buyer's point of you it's super frustrating when you're patiently waiting for the viewing date and someone sweeps in and snags the place but from a sellers point of view I can understand. It saves you the pain of having a zillion people walking in and examinging your home on two occasions and the stressful wait for the bidding to end. If someone has offered you a really good deal, more than you'd hoped for with little stress on your part then it's understandeable. I called the realtor of the second house above and asked to see it before the viewing but the owners didn't want to sell like that, they wanted the open house to take place.


I feel your frustration and I recognize it from many of my friends. It seems very stressful to go house hunting, but I´m sure it will work out for you (preferably sooner than later). I´ll cross my fingers!


Forgot...Good luck to you!

Blake @ Salt, Teak & Fog

Ooof, I hear you. I was in knots throughout our home-buying process. Very, very stressful... and I was pregnant, just wanting to nest! The whole process just sucks... hope you get through it quickly, and into a great place.


Ha, I am also looking in the same area and when I saw those two on Hemnet I figured they would be something for you, and then when you mentioned that one was surpricingly sold before the viewing I figured it was the top one. So, are you bidding right now one the other one?

My fiance and I are currently viewing a lot of properties to make up our minds what we like and where we'd like to live. I am thinking though that when I find the one and it's time (not right now I am still in school) I might just call the real estate agent right away and give the best offer I can. I am looking for a rowhouse (terrace-house?) to renovate so I am assuming I would already have been inside one or two already in the area and know I like the layout, and for decor I will change everything so it doesn't matter. But I am wondering if it's a good idea... I am thinking that my move might scare some other potential bidders away if the bidding has started before viewing and if I'm lucky the seller accepts my offer and the open viewing doesn't have to take place. What do you think? Sometimes I think the bidding (with people raising with 20 000 sek...soooo slow) is so elongated that ppl have time too much time to think and therefore hang in there longer, it's easier to go along with 20 000 again and again.... I woudl so much prefer that it was all over in a day and everyone was facing eachother in a meeting.

Sorry for the long comment... Why is it so complicated in Sweden?


benita, i completely agree. i thought i would love house hunting because i love houses, but it was awful. i'd find something online that looked amazing, and when i'd show up to view it i'd realize that it faced a junk yard or backed up to a bus depot. we fell in love with a house that was gorgeous inside, but the next-door neighbor had a backyard filled with trash (i can only imagine what the inside of their house looked like). by the time i saw the house i finally bought, i was pretty much willing to consider anything that was in good shape and wasn't in a terrible neighborhood.


Oh Benita! I completely feel you. I'm on the other side of the world in California going through the same process... For us, I'm a little further along having actually bid on several homes. Unfortunately, I feel like I'm just not getting it right. We've come in as a back-up (2nd in the running) for five or six homes already. I'm starting to lose track. Hopefully, it'll work out for both of us soon. Hang in there!

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