A TWO-BEDROOM APARTMENT IN THE CITY OF AARHUS
3.35 MILLION DANISH KRONER ($570,000)
This two-bedroom apartment has about 850 square feet of living space, including a wraparound balcony that overlooks the city’s harbor. It is on the fourth floor of a development called the Lighthouse, which opened in 2012 as the first residential component of the Docklands, an ambitious project to refashion the waterfront of Aarhus, Denmark’s second-largest city, with a population of about 300,000. The décor, in typical Danish style, is minimal and modern, with white walls and pale wood flooring.
A small entrance foyer opens up to the combined living/dining space. The integrated galley kitchen is to the left, with white lacquer cabinets designed by the Danish company HTH. The appliances, all by Siemens, include an induction cooktop, an electric oven and a dishwasher and refrigerator with faceplates that match the cabinets.
The living room has floor-to-ceiling windows, and there is space for a generously sized dining table. The main bedroom has a walk-in closet, and a smaller second bedroom can also be used as an office. The bathroom, reached through the foyer, has a tiled shower stall and a full-size washer and dryer, also by Siemens.
The balcony is reached through the two bedrooms and is deep enough to accommodate a small dining table and comfortable chairs. Heating is under-floor, but there is no air-conditioning, as temperatures in Aarhus rarely exceed 80 degrees in the summer, and cooling breezes come from the bay.
There are now more than 200 apartments in the Lighthouse project in three buildings, with two more buildings planned, said Kristian Voldsgaard, the owner of the Aarhus office of Danbolig, the listing agency.
An underground parking space is available, but the center of Aarhus is just a five- to seven-minute bike ride or bus trip away, and a light-rail line will eventually run the length of the pier. An energetic resident could even kayak through the harbor. The Aarhus airport is about a 45-minute drive, and Copenhagen is about three hours by car, either via ferry across the Kattegat sea from Aarhus or by driving south and east through the island of Fyn.
Urban redevelopment has reshaped the face of Aarhus over the last few decades. The small Aarhus River, concealed under a boulevard in the 1930s, was uncovered about 20 years ago, and its banks are now lined with cafes and shops.
Aarhus city then turned its attention to the harbor and its industrial docks. The Docklands project — which the city calls “a new maritime urban area” — is to be home to 7,000 people and 12,000 workplaces. The Docklands will include recreational space, a series of canal-like waterways, and educational and research facilities. Bjarke Ingels, perhaps Denmark’s most prominent architect, has just announced plans for a project on the harbor.
In the older parts of the city, buyers can find a 600-square-foot two-bedroom apartment near Aarhus University starting around $250,000, said Christian Borregaard, a real estate agent with Realmaeglerne. Family-size apartments with three or four bedrooms and 1,000 square feet or more can sell for up to $1 million.
Prices for comparable apartments in the Docklands, which also includes the shard-like Iceberg project, are higher, because of the views, ample light and newness of the buildings, agents said.
Most of the stand-alone houses can be found closer to the ring road that surrounds Aarhus, with the Risskov district to the north popular with expatriate business people. Houses there can sell for $750,000 and up, agents said.
The real estate market in Denmark took a hit after the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008. “House prices on a national level dropped 20 percent, and apartment prices even more,” said Steen Bocian, the chief economist for Danske Bank, the country’s largest.
Nonetheless, prices in Aarhus did not fall that far, Mr. Bocian said, for several reasons, including a large university population, the lack of a bubble before the recent crisis, and a diverse job market that includes some of the largest companies in Denmark and multinationals like Google. Denmark also has very low mortgage interest rates, under 3 percent for a 30-year loan.
Home prices and the number of properties sold have risen around the country in the last year, said Jan Larsen, the director of the Aarhus division of EDC, a real estate company. Mr. Larsen said house prices were up 4 percent, and apartments 11 percent. In Aarhus, he said, house prices are up 2 percent and apartments 9 percent.
But Mr. Borregaard sounded a note of caution: “The number of sales have increased and prices have been rising, but in the last quarter we’ve seen that prices have actually dropped a bit,” he said.
“We think people still remember the economic crisis and they don’t want prices to go into the sky,” he continued. “People are thinking it can’t go up this fast already. So they’re waiting to buy.”
Read more: House Hunting in …Denmark