Before taking a home loan in Finland, you want to familiarize yourself with the different banks available to see which one is best for you. In this article, I’ll give an overview of the different banks available in Finland to help you in the process of selecting a bank for you.
So first, let’s look at the big picture.
The latest statistics show that in Finland there are three banks that provide around 80% of all of the mortgage loans. These three banks are OP Group, Nordea and Danske Bank. The other banks are smaller, and may be harder to navigate, as their websites may only be in Finnish or English. However, for home buyers, there are some gems in the smaller banks as well, so you definitely do not want to sidestep them.
|40,7 bil. €
|30,9 bil. €
|10,6 bil. €
|5,7 bil. €
|4,2 bil. €
|3,5 bil. €
|3,1 bil. €
|POP Bank group
|2,2 bil. €
|1,8 bil. €
|1,4 bil. €
|0,8 bil. €
Source: Bank of Finland (updated 15 October 2021). The market share has been rounded to the nearest whole number and the loan portfolio to the nearest tenth. See the latest stats behind the link.
In addition to the financial institutions mentioned in the above table, there are also a few small institutions, but they account for less than 1% of housing loans to households. You will find information about these options in the last section of this page.
What bank should I chose for my home loan in Finland?
There is no one-size-fits-all mortgage bank. Different banks have different benefits, and may operate differently in different regions of Finland. Furthermore, they determine their interests rates in slightly different ways, and it is impossible to know ahead of time which bank will be best for you. So, rather than just sticking with the bank you are already accustomed to, you should always ask for offers from different banks, as I discuss in more detail in my other blog post.
In other words, you do not have to be a current customer of a particular bank to apply for a mortgage online.
OP Group: Get bonuses to save on service fees
With a market share of around 40 percent, OP is Finland’s most popular mortgage bank.
OP is not a traditional bank in the sense that it is a cooperative, rather than a corporation. In practice, this means that it is owned by its customers. Though you don’t need to become a member of the cooperative, it is typically worthwhile, because the onetime fee is quite low (100€ in 2022), giving you good benefits in the form of bonuses.
So if you are an OP owner-customer, you will receive OP bonuses from your transactions. The bonus points accumulated in your bonus account, can be used to pay for service fees and insurance fees (OP Group has their own insurance company).
Of course, the exact amount of bonuses you receive will depend on the size of your loan. As an example, a loan of 100 000€ will get you around 240€ worth of bonuses, which will go a long way in paying for your insurance fees.
However, don’t be blinded by the “free money” of the bonus system. As I discuss in my online course, when taking a home loan in Finalnd there are many other factors that you need to consider as well.
Nordea may offer the most flexible mortgages in Finland
With a market share of about 30 percent, Nordea is the second most popular mortgage bank in Finland. Nordea is especially popular among foreigners, as it operates in around 20 countries, also being one of the biggest European banks.
Nordea commercializes its self as providing the most flexible home loan in Finland. The reason for this is that they give their customers a lot of flexibility in how home loan payments are made. For instance, with a few clicks on their mobile app or website, you can have a payment-free month, or you can make a bigger mortgage payment one month, and a smaller payment another month. This flexibility comes at no extra charge.
Example: Suppose you have a € 150,000 mortgage that includes € 7,500 in installment flexibility. One month, you want to reduce your monthly loan repayment by $ 500. After that, you still have 7,000 euros of installment flexibility at your disposal. If, for some reason, you want to pay € 500 on top of a regular installment in the coming month, the amount of installment flexibility available to you would rise back to € 7,500.
Nordea also provides longer mortgage periods than some other banks, saying that the loan period can be up to 35 years (compared to 25 years offered by some other banks).
Danske Bank – especially for those working in higher education
As the name suggest, Danske bank is a Danish bank. It operates in eight countries and is the third largest bank in Finland. As an international bank, it brings its own benefits for expats, who may relocate at some point in the future.
A special feature of Danske Bank’s is that it offers special benefits to members of Akava, the central organization for higher education. Akava’s member associations include a total of more than 600,000 Finns and can be joined by anyone working in higher education.
For members of Akava, the bank promises a mortgage with a lower margin and no delivery fee or arrangement fee. As the arrangement fee alone can be a four-digit number, the benefit can be significant. However, as was the case with OP Group, don’t be blinded by “free money”, but rather, look at the whole picture, as I discuss in my course.
Säästöpankki has received good feedback on the clarity of the loan application
Apparently, quite a few Finns may find it difficult to complete a mortgage application. Perhaps for this reason, Säästöpankki has highlighted the clarity of its application form in its marketing. That said, their website is not available in English (2022), so this is of little comfort to expats who do not speak Finnish.
Aktia has done well in mortgage comparisons
A Finnish financial magazine called Taloustaito regularly compares offers given out by banks for home loans in Finland. Aktia has regularly done well in these comparisons. For instance, in a comparison published in the turn of 2022, Aktia ranked second, offering an interest rate of 0.59%. Do note, however that the exact rate is always dependant on who the customer is, as I’ve discussed in my blog on how to get a good mortgage deal.
The downside is that Aktia does not have an English website. However, if you are hunting for a good loan offer, but don’t yet speak Finnish, you may still consider calling them up, as I’m sure the people working there will be able to serve you in English as well.
S-Bank’s market share of home loans in Finland is rising
I’m sure you are all aware of S-Kauppa. Well, S-Pankki is apart of the same coorperative. Similar to OP, the bank is owned by everyone who has joined the coorperative, including me and (probably) you as well.
At the time of writing, S-Bank is the sixth largest bank giving out home loans in Finland. However, S-pankki is a fairly new player in giving out home loans and its popularity has been going rapidly.
Though they do not have an English website about their loan services, you can walk into any S-pankki (typically found in Prisma’s) to get service in English. You may want to consider this option especially if you want a longer mortgage period, as they are currently offering home loans for 30 years.
Handelsbanken has granted the longest home loans in Finland
In Finland, home loans are typically given for a 25 year period, but some banks have provided loans for much longer periods. Handelsbank holds the record for providing longest loans, as a few years ago they were giving out 60 year loans for home buyers. Such long loan periods are common in some other Scandinavian countries, but in Finland they did not prove to be popular. For this reason, currently Handelsbank provides a 30 year home loan in Finland.
At the end of 2021, Handelsbanken said that it was withdrawing from Finland in the near future. At the beginning of 2022, however, operations continued without change.
POP Bank Group – for those who want to go local
The POP Bank Group includes about twenty local cooperative banks serving different parts of Finland. They market their home loan as the “most local home loan” in Finland, so if you like local, go with POP bank. The benefit of resorting to a local bank is that you may get better service. Furthermore, small banks may understand remote parts of the country better than bigger banks, meaning that in some parts of the country it may be easier to get a loan from a small local bank, rather than a big international bank. The drawback is that they do not operate in all parts of Finland, so do check if they serve home buyers in your area.
OmaSP provides online coaching for home buyers
Oma Säästöpankki, or OmaSP, saw the light of day in 2009 when two savings banks merged. They currently have around 30 branches dispersed around the country.
In 2022, they’ve attracted new home buyers through free online coaching materials, that cover the essentials of buying a home in Finland. Unfortunately, they’ve had some technical challenges with the program, and, of course, the material is only in Finnish. So if you would want to attend a step-by-step online course on buying a home in Finland in English, check out my course on buying a home in Finland.
The Bank of Åland is a good option especially for those living on the island
As the name suggests, the Bank of Åland is headquartered in Åland. However, in addition to its headquarters in Mariehamn, the bank serves its customers in Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Vaasa, Oulu and Parais, among others. So if you live in one of these areas, this is also a bank you look into for your home loan in Finland. They pride in being a small and local bank, which providing good service to customers.
Hypo – the only credit institution in Finland that specializes on housing
Hypo, the Finnish Mortgage Association, is a private credit institution specializing in housing finance. In bank comparisons, Hypo has often provided the cheapest loans for Finnish home buyers. Sometimes they provide significantly lower interest rates than some other banks (e.g. around 0.5%), so you should definitely consider asking for a home loan offer from Hypo.
However, Hypo does also have several downsides. First of all, as of writing they have parts of their website in English, but aspects related to getting a home loan are in Finnish. In addition, they are more picky in where your home can be located. As of writing, they only provide housing loans in the Helsinki metropolitan area, Uusimaa or in the areas of Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Jyväskylä, Kuopio or Hämeenlinna. Finally, they do not provide abundant banking services, nor do they accept investments, such as stocks or forest as collateral for your loan. So though Hypo tends to be cheap, it is not for everyone.
Other financial institutions and mortgage banks granting home loans in Finland
Financial institutions other than those listed above account for less than 1% of housing loans to households. However, there are some other options that may be appealing to some home buyers.
Namely, a Swedish bank called Bluestep has operated in Finland since 2020. The bank has specialized in granting mortgages to high-risk customers, who may not be able to get a home loan from other banks operating in Finland. However, the interest rates can be significantly higher than traditional home loans, so you want to be extra cautions with going with an option like this. Bluestep is still a very small player in Finland, granting loans less than 20 Milj. EUR during its first year of operation. Time will tell how big a demand there is for its services.
-OP Group, Nordea and Danske Bank give out around 80% of home loans in Finland. You should ask for an offer from atleast these three banks. For more insight on asking for offers, read my article on getting a good home loan from a bank.
-Only a few of the banks have a website in Finnish. However, you can still contact banks by phone or through their offices. Some of these banks focus on serving home buyers, so you may get some really sweet offers.
-Some banks seem to offer a “free lunch”, through bonuses or other benefits. However, remember that nothing in life comes for free. In my online course I explain how these free lunches play out in the big picture.
-If you need help in the process of buying a home in Finland, check out if my services on buying a home could be of help for you.