Then number of home loan applications has also been higher in early 2024 than in late 2023.

-The most significant factor affecting home sales at year-end was the government's decision to remove the tax benefit for first-time home buyers from the beginning of 2024. According to Riikka Kangas, SVP, Financing for Personal Customers at OP Uusimaa, this was the trigger for the first-time buyers to venture into the housing market.

As many as 41 per cent of home loans granted during October–December were to first-time home buyers, in contrast to 29 per cent in the corresponding period the previous year. In turn, the share of those changing homes among all loan applicants dropped from 48 per cent to 38 per cent.

According to OP Uusimaa's home loan statistics, first-time buyers in Uusimaa were particularly interested in Espoo as the target municipality. The number of first-time buyers there was almost three times as high as within the same period the previous year. Those looking at switching homes turned their eyes toward municipalities around the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, such as Porvoo, Järvenpää and Tuusula.

-The rise of housing and other costs has affected the finances of individuals widely, which has led many Uusimaa dwellers to look for more affordable housing outside the Metropolitan area. Likewise the popularity of remote work and the longing for more space increase interest in the surrounding municipalities, says Riikka Kangas.

Transaction volumes on the rise across Uusimaa – the greatest growth rates in the surrounding municipalities

The statistics by the Central Federation of Finnish Real Estate Agencies reveal that the number of used home transactions has increased by 21 per cent in October–December 2023 in comparison to the corresponding period the previous year. The biggest increases in transaction volumes were seen in Tuusula (43%), Porvoo (42%), Lohja (39%) and Sipoo (36%). In the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, the transaction volumes have grown most in Helsinki, by 29 per cent.

-An interesting detail is that in Lohja, the number of detached houses sold was the third highest in Uusimaa, right after Espoo and Vantaa. In addition, Lohja was the only municipality in Uusimaa where home prices went up, notes OP Koti Uusimaa's sales manager Ville Suominen.

Home prices in Uusimaa during October–December 2023 declined most in Nurmijärvi (-8%) and Porvoo (-6%). In Helsinki, prices fell by 6 per cent. In Kirkkonummi, Vantaa and Sipoo, prices remained at the same level as in October–December 2022.

-It's pleasing that towards the end of 2023, home sales clearly picked up across Uusimaa, thanks to first-time buyers in particular. This has also helped break the pattern of property chaining home sales. The levelling off of the rise in interest rates and prices will surely promote home sales this year, says sales manager Antti Himanen at OP Koti Uusimaa.

Are you interested in buying a new home? Read more on home loans at OP.