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Finland… Baltic’s Real Estate Heaven | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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House Hunting in … Finland

Finland-On a country lane surrounded by farm fields, this 1995 house is on a 0.9-acre lot in the well-to-do suburb of Kauniainen, about eight miles from downtown Helsinki.

The 6,800-square-foot dormered wooden house was designed with a nod to French Provence, according to Liisa Jakovlew, a senior broker with Snellman Sotheby’s International Realty, which has the listing. The real estate, which is offered for $1.8 million, has six bedrooms, four full baths and two half-baths.

A covered porch leads to a front door with sidelights. The entrance hall has a floor of vitrified “clinker bricks” and opens to the dining room, with garden views through a broad bow window. Tucked in a corner is a seating area with a raised hearth.

Siberian larch wood planks of varying widths cover the floors in the dining room and the adjacent living room and library.

The living room has a 16-foot vaulted ceiling with exposed beams and a V-shaped window at one end.

To the opposite side of the dining room, the kitchen has custom-made white and ocher-yellow cabinets, ceramic tile and wood countertops, a ceramic cooktop, an oven, a wood-burning stove, a double refrigerator, a freezer and a microwave.

A breakfast nook is next to a V-shaped window. The laundry room is behind the kitchen.

To the right of the entry foyer, the master bedroom has an en-suite blue and white ceramic tile bath with a double vanity and a tub with a hand-held shower. A

powder room and a nursery, used as an office, are across the hall. An open staircase leads to the upper and lower levels.

Three upstairs bedrooms share two baths, one with a tub, and the other with a shower; both have double vanities. A large landing at the top of the staircase, used for yoga, opens to a TV/hobby room and a balcony overlooking the backyard.

On the lower level is an indoor pool, five feet deep, with a jetted swim current, a sauna, a gym, a lounge with a large fireplace, a billiards room, a guest room, a bathroom, a powder room and storage.

A door leads from the living room to a deck overlooking flowering gardens with apple, plum, beech, oak and linden trees, rhododendron, wild strawberries, rhubarb, red and black currants, along with a small greenhouse for herbs and flowers.

The house has a shared driveway leading to a heated garage, also shared with an adjoining property. Two of its four spaces belong to each house.

The rail station with service to downtown Helsinki is a 10-minute ride by bus or car from the house; the train trip takes around 20 minutes. A shopping mall with restaurants is a little over a mile away. An indoor sports center, tennis courts, ski slopes and several multilingual schools for international families are nearby.

“Generally, the housing market in Finland has been weak for the past few years,” Ms. Jakovlew said, though this year has shown a slight improvement over 2015. Luxury homes are the strongest segment of the market, along with small apartments.

Nina Nykopp, a real estate agent with West-House in Espoo, attributed the sluggish market to “the economic situation in Finland,” with “more unemployment than before and the uncertainty all around Europe,” particularly concerning refugees and Russian actions in Ukraine.

Villas in the capital area, within nine miles of Helsinki, start at around 500,000 euros, or $565,000, “depending on the size, area and age of the building,” Ms. Nykopp said. At the high end, prices mostly range from one to two million euros

($1.13 million to $2.26 million), with some up to 3.5 million euros ($3.96 million) and a few privately traded homes up to seven million euros, or $7.91 million.

In Hanko, a vacation spot on the Baltic Sea southwest of Helsinki, one-bedroom apartments start around 60,000 euros; for a villa or a penthouse, prices range up to around 1.5 million euros, or around $1.7 million, she said.

During the global downturn between 2008 and 2010, Helsinki prices dropped 5 percent to 10 percent altogether, Harri Hiltunen, the managing director of the Finnish Real Estate Federation, said in an email, “but recovered quickly and are now above pre-2008 levels.”

Construction of new single-family homes has been decreasing for a decade, Mr. Hiltunen added. With increased urbanization and “spatial planning which favors high building density and tight living areas,” most new construction is “blocks of flats” next to public transportation.

(The New York Times)