Analysts forecast Estonian real estate to continue bumping along the bottom

Real estate (photo is illustrative).
Real estate (photo is illustrative). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

"Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK reported Wednesday that analysts are divided on comparisons between the current situation with the Estonian real estate market, and the situation on the eve of the last major economic crisis, starting in 2008.

While some see a similarity, others perceive no real threat of a crisis, and predict instead the current bottoming-out of the market to continue to quietly persist.

A deterioration in the labor market situation may bring about negative changes, however, it is felt.

AK reported that comparing the current situation on the real estate market with that of 2008, the year of the last major economic crisis, one similarity is the fall in the number of transactions.

"There is a bit of a resemblance there, isn't there," Risto Vähi, analyst with Uus Maa, told AK.

"Even then, the number of transactions started falling first, and this was followed by transaction price levels, i.e. the price per square meter. Throughout this year we have already seen that, compared with the same period last year, there have been on average a one-third fewer apartment transactions," Vähi went on.

A minor drop has also been experienced with transaction prices, while according to Vähi, prices have also been lowered in real estate advertisements.

This has been particularly the case in the secondary market, he told AK – though with regard to small apartments this fall has for the time being bottomed out.

With new builds, however, no discernible price fall has been seen, he added.

"More parking space and storage space is provided [with new properties], but this is not reflected in transaction prices," Vähi said.

Meanwhile real estate analyst Tõnu Toompark said: "Today in the here and now there are no severe factors. The real estate market is clearly not having the best of times at present, though; the number of transactions has been falling, and prices are under serious pressure. Prices are also about 10 percent below peak levels, while there is only a small volume of supply."

The market has in fact been more or less near its bottom over the last three quarters, Toompark said, after a peak in the second and third quarters of 2022.

From the fourth quarter of last year prices started falling, showing a very minimal rise in the second quarter of 2023. Now as the third quarter of this year nears its end, prices can be seen as slightly below the Q2 level, but slightly above the trough at the start of this year, Toompark went on.

Analyst at SEB Pank said that one difference compared with previous real estate crises is a lack of a "bubble"; the square-meter price of apartments move more or less at the same pace as wages.

Again, something serious occurring within the labor market could provoke a sharp decline in the real estate market, however, Nestor said.

At the same time, there is no reason, based on current forecasts, to fear this development unfolding, he added.

"Provided an individual has a job and an income, there is no expectation of any forced sales [of properties] to follow," he went on.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Mart Linnart.

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