A detached house by the lake, surrounded by nature and within a reasonable distance of services. Riina Kivilahti and Ethan Gilbert moved into their new home in Karjalohja in the autumn and made their dream – which is familiar to many Finns – a reality.

“We have family and friends living in this area, and nature and an active village with services and schools are nearby,” Kivilahti says happily.

Originally built as a summer cottage and later extended for permanent use, their new home is located on the shore of the beautiful Lohjanjärvi lake. The couple has a four-year-old daughter and a baby due in the summer, so the peacefulness and safety of the environment are important values for them.

The detached house has 150 square metres, so there is plenty of room for the whole family. Gilbert is from the US, so they also needed a guest room for his relatives who visit Finland.

The office overlooks a beautiful view over the Lohjanjärvi lake.

Kivilahti and Gilbert spent about two years looking for a new home. They went to at least 15 viewings and even made a couple of offers ­before they found the right one.

“We were lucky to find this house as our home. With the same price in Helsinki, we could have afforded maybe a small two-room flat, but now we have an entire house by the lake, just for us,” Kivilahti says. 

OP offered the best ASP benefits

Kivilahti and Gilbert paid for the house mainly with their ASP savings and ASP loan. They also took a small regular housing loan, because the ASP loan is covered by a location-specific limit in EUR, which is specified by the State Treasury, and they needed slightly more for their house.

“I had been saving money in my ASP account for about six years. Originally, I started saving in the ASP account because my mother recommended it,” Kivilahti says.

Gilbert had some savings of his own. Towards the end of the process, he also joined Kivi­lahti’s ASP account because together, they could get more ASP loan than Kivilahti would have ­r­eceived by herself.

“Ethan deposited a small amount of money in my ASP account, which made him a co-owner of the account easily,” Kivilahti says. 

To her surprise, Kivilahti noticed that the terms of the ASP loans varied between banks. For example, the additional interest rate paid by the banks varies from 2 to 4 per cent. Kivilahti started saving on an ASP savings account in another bank but chose OP after making comparisons between different banks.

“I transferred my ASP savings to OP because they offered the best loan terms,” Kivilahti says.

State interest subsidy gives peace of mind

Mortgage interest rates are high at the moment. The state interest subsidy on ASP loans reduces the uncertainty related to the interest level, as the state subsidises the loan interest by 70 per cent for the part in excess of 3.8 per cent during the first 10 years of the loan.

“The interest subsidy increases confidence and creates a sense of security now when interest rates are high and the economic situation uncertain,” Kivilahti says.

A state guarantee is one of the benefits of the ASP system that makes it easier for more peop­le to become house owners. The buyer can get a state guarantee as security for the loan, in addition to the apartment, which means that they need less own funding.

“The state mortgage guarantee is a good thing for many first-time house buyers, although we did not need it because we had enough savings,” Kivilahti says. 

Solar panels with the ASP additional interest

Both Kivilahti and Gilbert work in an international organisation on climate and environmental matters, and they want to live as carbon-neutrally as possible. 
“The share of energy consumption is about one quarter of the carbon footprint of housing, which means that we can reduce our day-to-day emissions significantly by making the right choices,” Kivilahti points out.

The couple was delighted to note that the heating of their new home was already ecologi­cal: geothermal heat from the nearby lake. In addition, Kivilahti and Gilbert used the ASP savings bonus of four per cent to make the house more ecological.

In the winter, half of the house is only heated to the minimum temperature. Keeping empty rooms warm is not sensible.

“We used the money we received as additional interest to install solar panels on the roof, which is an excellent way to minimise the emissions from energy consumption,” Kivilahti explains.

Both Kivilahti and Gilbert can work remotely at their home office and avoid commuting to the Helsinki office on most days. In the winter, they keep the heating at the minimum in half of the house, because keeping empty rooms warm is not sensible – they wear woollen socks to keep their feet warm.

Kivilahti is looking forward to the summer when she gets to grow tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse next to the kitchen.

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