Portal: Russians selling real estate in Estonia, Americans buying

Apartment block in Tallinn.
Apartment block in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Foreign nationals' interest in Estonian real estate is on the rise, real estate portal Kinnisvara24 (KV24) says, citing statistics obtained from the Land Board (Maa-amet).

However, sales are more common than purchases, and property speculation is largely not happening any more, while the make-up of buyers and sellers by nationality has changed, partly due to the current security picture.

In recent history the strongest foreign interest in Estonian real estate came in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the country had exited the uncertainty of the early years of the restoration of independence and was en route to joining the EU, yet there were still plenty of attractive investment opportunities.

Interest from the Nordic countries was particularly high.

Nowadays, while that interest remains, KV24 reports, the desire to buy has subsided while more sales are taking place.

Land Board data reveals that foreign nationals make 36 percent more sales than purchases, when it comes to Estonian real estate.

"Whereas around 25 years ago, foreigners bought residential real estate in Estonia primarily for investment and in the hopes of an appreciation in value, nowadays, real estate prices have reached a level where they no longer invest," Urmas Uibomäe, CEO of KV24, said.

"Instead, real estate is being purchased due to a direct need - for example, a place to live, particularly when there is a direct connection with Estonia," Uibomäe went on via a company press release.

Finnish and Russian nationals are more represented in real estate transactions in Estonia than are other nationalities, with Harju County, including Tallinn, the island of Saaremaa, and Ida-Viru County being the most popular regions.

There have been some more recent changes, however, including a growth in interest for U.S. and also German citizens.

"Whereas three years ago, Russians purchased the largest volume of real estate in Harju County, this year it was the Americans 'won' the market and who concluded seven purchase transactions last month totaling over €7 million in value," Uibomäe went on.

Part of the attraction could be explained by Estonia's image as an innovative and tech-focused state, he added. "Entrepreneurs see the potential of doing business here and now, and are expanding their companies to Estonia."

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the current security situation, Russian citizens are noteworthy for the volume of sales transactions in recent months; last month, over 20 transactions took place in Ida-Viru County alone, Uibomäe noted.

"While in the past, Russians were primarily interested in acquiring real estate, the data from this last month reveals that nowadays they are rapidly pulling out of the market, and the transactions largely concern sales," he said.

"Undoubtedly, the current war situation also plays its part, as it has also made real estate transactions many times more difficult, if not impossible, for Russians to achieve, so it forces them to leave the market," Uibomäe said (another factor is difficulty in entering the country to administer rental properties-ed.).


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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