Our Home

Our Danish Home(s)

In 1994 we moved to Denmark from Finchley, North London, in England. The place we found is in a village called Skt Klemens which is in the south of Odense on the island of Fyn. Most non-Danish maps will show Fyn as Funen - the anglicised version of the name. Fyn is the middle piece of land in Denmark (and Odense is the third city) and is often referred to as the garden of Denmark. Overall, it is about the size of Greater London, but with a population of less than half a million! Odense itself has 184,000 inhabitants - Skt Klemens less than a 1000. The village name is from the saint, Clement, and is the same one after whom is named the church in London, St Clement Danes. Odense, by the way, is a corruption of Odins By - that is, the town of Odin.

We found the house through the business section of the Town Hall offices. Having first enquired at the Danish Embassy in London, and knowing that Fyn was the part of Denmark that we favoured, they came to see us in Finchley and suggested the Town Hall contact. From them came some newspaper ads. for houses to sell, and we liked one in particular, so contacted the estate agent by fax to ask if there were any photos available. To our astonishment, within a few minutes, back came some photos, obviously only taken a few minutes before! When we visited the house, we found out why! Susse, the agent lived next door!

In the middle of November 1993 we made the trip, were loaned the keys, and spent hours looking around the house and the area. The next day we concluded the deal, and moved in on 24th March 1994 - a few weeks later, this was our front door.

But then in 2007 we were finding that the house and garden were too big for our needs, even with seventeen cats! Myrtle had to leave most of the general cleaning to Tony, and the garden was getting away from him again. Twelve foot high beech hedges give plenty of privacy, but grow another foot or two every year. With Christian's help they did manage to cut back all the dead bamboo to the boundary, so that at least looked a LOT better!

On day in July we were talking and discovered that we both had been wondering if we should find a smaller house - the unanimous decision immediately proved to be a resounding YES.

So we went to our computers and started searching. We found a website for the estate agents association and that has a good search facility that gave us a selection of houses on Fyn within the size and price range we imagined would suit us. As we wanted to be nearer to our adopted family, we narrowed the search to that area of Fyn and up popped a nice selection with links to the houses being advertised by each agent.

There were about four possibilities meeting our initial criteria; we then looked more closely at the details of each one and emailed the different agents to ask for further information to clarify what we had already seen. At the same time, we searched for houses for sale that matched our existing house and its area, to give us a first idea of what we might be able to get. The two figures were compatible, so we could go further.

The agent that seemed the most promising rapidly replied to say that their main office dealt only with business properties, but would pass our email on to their four offices that could help with private houses - not a single one ever replied!!!

Another agent also responded promptly with a telephone call to suggest a visit both to discuss putting our own house on the market, and also to help us find a new home. Kenneth (of EDC) duly arrived the next day as promised and spent a couple of hours with us. He gave an honest opinion and the package contract for both buying and selling seemed fine to us, so we arranged to go to their office the next day and sign the contract. There Kenneth showed us a Power Point presentation that he had rapidly put together and we signed on the spot!

In the meantime more information came in on possibilities and a few days later we made appointments to view one for sale via another EDC office and one a few houses away via an independent agent. Both were in the same village where Kathrine and Christian live so could be very suitable. The first one looked very good. The garden was just grass (hooray!) with no hedges (hooray again!) and the 1977 house had been recently renovated, although by the owners, so there were obvious deficiencies. Nothing that could not readily be fixed.

Then on to the second house - what a disaster - the garden was totally unsuitable with trees, hedges, flower beds and all the paraphernalia we didn'twant! (The agent seemed to think it was a good selling point.) Entering the house we were met by a terrible stink of tobacco and the accompanying dark brown everything. So many things we hated, but the agent is a nice man and lives in the same village. We pass his house and office when we go visiting. For the first house we stated we had an interest, but would have to wait to make a definite offer until we could progress further the sale of our own house. Here, we need to digress a bit with a basic explanation of buying and selling practices in Denmark, which are soooo much better than in the UK.

There are some fundamental differences which are embodied in the law. It can be quite complicated, but here is a brief summary.
  • gazumphing is not allowed!
  • contracts are binding and there are penalties for breaking them - you don't need to employ loads of expensive barristers to enforce them.
  • 'mortgages' follow the person, not the house. Once you have started, then you just have to negotiate a transfer and not a whole new deal.
  • although it is not legally necessary to have a house inspection report, you are at a tremendous disadvantage if you don't get one! The main one being that no insurance company will agree to an "owner change" insurance, so you cannot get cover for your liability for any problems found by the purchaser, for the next twenty years. Next step - a house inspection report!!!
  • however it is necessary to have an energy efficiency report, usually done by the same surveyor.
  • in our case, we had bought our house for cash, so had no mortgage or other loans. That posed a bit of a problem as we couldn't provide the necessary bank guarantee to cover buying a house. But most banks will agree a bridging loan, and that we arranged once we had the need for it.
Now Kenneth's expertise came in to play. As part of our contract with EDC, he arranged for professional photos to be taken of our house and a detailed brochure to be produced. That took about ten days (after a hectic bout of house cleaning), and then EDC could display everything in their office, and send out information to enquirers. At the same time, all the information went onto a special page in their website to attract email enquiries. We could login to those pages and see the statistics and were amazed at how rapidly the numbers mounted. (By the time we had a definite buyer - three months - the numbers were climbing to the ten thousand mark and almost a hundred sets of information had gone out physically and electronically.) Even before the information was completely available, Kenneth arranged for a first viewing.

That was rather funny - more housework to get the place spic and span again! Just what we wanted to get away from! Usually the agent shows a house without the owners there, as happened at the two we viewed. But we could NOT rely on people always keeping one door shut between the cats and the outside. Anyway, who wants seventeen strange cats underfoot? We made a deal with Kenneth that we would get all the cats into the cat run, and sit out there with them for reassurance. That worked OK, and gave an added interest to the viewings :-)

Over the next month or so we had five viewings altogether - as some houses on EDC's books had not even had one for over six months, we were very pleased. Of course, we knew that the house would not suit many people, and would need changes and renovations, although the surveys were favourable about general condition and structure. In the end we had two definite offers, rather lower than the asking price and Kenneth managed to get the best one increased slightly as long as we gave them an extra months delay for the takeover date.

But before that happened we had to try and get something more definite about a new home for us all. The problem of course being that we could not make an offer on a house unless we had a contract to buy ours. By then we had looked at several more possibilities:
  • an old (1899) house that had been renovated and looked very good. Until we queried the high energy useage. "Oh yes" said the agent, "when they renovated they did not put in modern insulation."
  • another old one, also renovated and in the same road as Kathrine. Some renovation but more needed so cheaper. We queried why it had a barrier in front of it like a motorway crash barrier. Kathrine told us it is on a sharp bend, and sometimes..... Next time we went past we had a look and decided not to bother!
  • finally we found another independent agent who had what looked like a nice house. The advert was a bit confusing about the exact address, but on making contact we found that the address was really in the right area and as everything else looked good, we asked for the surveyor report. No report as it was a brand new house so covered by a complete twenty year building gurantee! Too good to miss? We asked for an appointment straight away but he said we could come to an open house viewing two days later.
We did that, and while we were there only two other families turned up. Maybe it was a little higher in price than a comparable house of similar size, but brand new - wow! We checked back with him and said we would have it as we decided that the price and availability was so much better than the other one that it would suit us very well, and only five minutes from Kathrine anyway. The garden was just grass and Christian said he would have to kneel down to cut the hedges :-))

Now we were at an impasse as we had a house we wanted but no money and no contract to sell ours. Our bank was not making bridging loans as the housing market was so slow. Kathrine and Christian made an appointment for us with their own bank and they were quite happy to make us a loan, so we changed banks and the bank guarantee was settled in a couple of days. We called the agent and a few days later signed the contract for our new home. Our luck was in, as just a few weeks later Kenneth found us a buyer and that contract was signed as well, so we would only need the loan for about 3 - 4 months.

As there is so much to tell about the house and our moving, there is another page where you can see more, together with photos. Jump to our brand new home.

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