Real Estate Value Rises 11.7% in Iceland

architecture vesturbær old houses

The total valuation of all real estate in Iceland has risen by 11.7% year-on-year, according to next year’s real estate valuation, just released by the Housing and Construction Authority (HMS). Inflation over the past year measured 10.2%, meaning that the real value of property has only risen slightly.

“We are looking at big population growth, such rapid population growth that it has been suggested that Icelanders haven’t multiplied so rapidly since the 18th century. At the same time, housing construction is not keeping pace with this population growth and interest rates have risen a lot,” stated Tryggvi Már Ingvarsson, manager of HMS’ real estate department, at a presentation on the 2024 valuation report yesterday.

Highest rise in East and Westfjords

Just how much real estate has risen in value varies from region to region, with the highest rises in East Iceland and the Westfjords, at 22.4% and 20.5% respectively. The lowest rise was in South Iceland, at 12.9%, while it was only slightly higher in the capital area at 13%.

The real estate valuation in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland, rose dramatically, or over 40%, likely due to many construction projects in the town. In Reykhólasveit and Vesturbyggð (the southern Westfjords) property value also spiked between 30 and 40%. As average property prices in those areas are much lower than, for example, in the capital area, such hikes do not amount to so much in ISK.

The capital area contains 60% of the entire country’s residential property and about 75% of the value of all residential property in Iceland.

Property value key for municipal coffers

The yearly real estate valuation in Iceland is important for municipalities, as around 15% of municipal funds come from property taxes, the largest part from commercial property taxes. Low valuation can have a negative impact on municipal coffers, especially if it is below inflation, which is the case in many regions.

Mayor of Vesturbyggð Þórdís Sif Sigurðardóttir attributes the dramatic rise in property valuation there to growth in the aquaculture and tourism industries. While there is little property vacancy in the region, the municipality is working to kickstart housing construction projects.

Property taxes are calculated based on property valuation, so while a rise in valuation means homeowners’ investment is paying off, it also means an increase in property taxes. Last year, property value rose 20% year-on-year, an all-time record.

Glódís Perla Among Top 10 Footballers in Europe

Glódís Perla Viggósdóttir

Icelander Glódís Perla Viggósdóttir has been ranked the tenth-best footballer in Europe by football news outlet goal.com. The ranking described her as an “absolute rock” and an “integral part” of her team Bayern Munich’s defence, which only conceded seven goals in the entire 2022-2023 season. RÚV reported first.

In the early years of her career, Glódís, now 27, played youth football in Denmark. Her first senior club was Iceland’s HK/Víkingur. She made her national Icelandic team debut more than a decade ago, in 2012 and has played more than 100 matches with the national team.

Glódís played professionally in both Denmark and Sweden before signing with FC Bayern Munich in July 2021. She is not the only Icelander on the team, which also includes forward Karólína Lea Vilhjálmsdóttir and goalkeeper Cecilia Rán Rúnarsdóttir.

Other Icelanders that have seen success in European women’s football leagues in recent years include Sveindís Jane Jónsdóttir, a 21-year-old forward currently playing for VfL Wolfsburg, and former national team captain and European champion Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir, a midfielder currently at Juventus F.C. Women.

On the Edge of Glory

Tindastóll Iceland basketball

By the start of Iceland’s latest basketball season, the northerners of Tindastóll, from Sauðárkrókur (pop. 2,612), had made it to the league finals on four occasions. Four times, they left without a trophy. No other team had made it so far, so often, without anything to show for it.

Tindastóll Iceland basketball

This year, the Fates seemed set on weaving a familiar narrative. Excitement brewed, and crescendoed, as the Championship trophy was driven to Sauðárkrókur, Tindastóll’s home turf, during game four of the finals, in anticipation of the team’s first title.

icelandic basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball
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Game five began ominously. It was Tindastóll’s final chance to take the title, but Valur dominated the first quarter, and by the closing minutes of the fourth, appeared to have the championship within its grasp: 77-72.

Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball

A minute is a long time in basketball.

Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball

In a scene ripped straight out of a sports film, during one of thosehalfunbelievable sequences of events, which occur so rarely so late inthe season – Tindastóll levelled the game with 15 seconds to go.

Tindastóll Iceland basketball

79-79.

Valur’s head coach, Finnur Freyr Stefánsson, called a timeout and drew up a play for Kári Jónsson. He drove past Tindastóll’s defence and netted a tough shot with five seconds left on the clock.
81-79. All hope seemed to have faded.

As the players huddled around, Pavel Ermolinskij – head coach ofTindastóll for all of four months, eight-time national champion, and a former player for Valur – took to the playbook.

Tindastóll Iceland basketball

When play resumed, Tindastóll’s Keyshawn Woods drew a foul on a three point attempt. With the weight of the entire season on his shoulders, he sank the first of three free throws. The next two bounced precariously around the rim – before ultimately sealing Tindastóll’svictory.
81-82.

Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball

Widespread Bird Deaths in West and South Iceland

Puffin Iceland

Locals have reported dead puffins and kittiwakes in the dozens and even hundreds in recent weeks, RÚV reports. Such deaths are unusual at this time of year in Iceland and their cause is unknown. While bird flu is unlikely to be the cause, extreme weather may be a possible explanation.

Borgarnes resident Pavle Estrajher spotted five dead puffins on the shore in the town last month. When he made a post about them on Facebook, he received many comments from others who had found dead puffins in the region. Snæfellsnes peninsula resident Jón Helgason reported seeing hundreds of dead puffins and kittiwakes at Löngufjörur beach on the peninsula’s south coast, for example.

Bird flu not the cause

The widespread deaths of Kittiwakes cannot be attributed to bird flu, according to Brigitte Brugger of the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST). Samples from the birds analysed by MAST ruled out the illness. “In any case, no bird flu viruses were found in these samples that have been taken,” Brigitte stated.

Some have suggested that extreme weather may have caused the deaths, including meteorologist Einar Sveinbjörnsson. The wave height in West Iceland’s Faxaflói bay was forecast at 8-9 metres during last month, unseasonably extreme weather for late May. Previous reports of widespread bird deaths in Iceland have usually occurred in wintertime and been attributed to extreme weather or scarcity of food.

Iceland’s puffin population has declined by 70% over the last 30 years, according to the latest figures. Residents of Grímsey island in North Iceland report, anecdotally at least, that the island’s puffin population is strong.