New builds, outer areas of Tallinn popular at Kalamaja's expense

Housing construction in Tallinn.
Housing construction in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

According to Peep Sooman from real estate firm Pindi Kinnisvara, the popularity of the Kalamaja district of Tallinn is on the wane as many people wish to live futher out from the city centre.

Kalamaja has been a popular district for several years with apartment buyers keen on its character architecture, dominated by large wooden houses built around a century or so ago, a period referred to in Estonia as the Tsarist times (Tsariaeg).

It is popular with students, 'hipsters' and young professionals as well as families and had seen its fortunes transformed having formerly had some notoreity as a more down-at-heel area, with many bars, restaurants and shops opening up in the area.

This 'Kalamaja effect' has also spread to surrounding regions such as Pelgulinn and the revamped Baltijaam market.

Prices rising, but not for much longer

However it seems that this long period of growth is coming to an end, at least in Kalamaja, as buyers are shifting to less central districts.

Speaking to current affairs show "Aktuaalne Kaamera", Mr. Sooman stated that whilst the average square meter price of Tallinn's apartments rose as much as 7.2% in just a month, between May and June, to €1868 per sq m, according to Estonan Land Board's statistics, this rapid increase is not likely to be sustainable.

Moreover the popular areas today are on the outskirts of the city, such as Peetri, to the south of Tallinn Airport, or in smaller commuter towns such as Kiili, Saue and Saku, all of which have seen a rapid growth in population. As a result he notes that the Kalamaja bubble is probably over.

"This 'trend hysteria' is out of fashion now,'' he went on, noting that banks are no longer lending for apartments with seemingly inflated asking prices.

''These types of purchases and this 'I have to buy in Kalamaja and don't care what the price is' attitude,'' are a thing of the past, Sooman added.

Another factor in favour of more outer areas of Tallinn is the popularity of new builds, which are more common in those regions, although new builds are taking place in some Kalamaja sites also (such as at Väike-Patarei 1/Jahu 6 where a building site is currently the scene of an ongoing and dramatic archaeological dig).

Price increase not immediately explicable, buyers preferring flats to houses nowadays

Other real estate experts concur that the current price rises can't last forever.

''Even though many of us expected to see a price fall by now, that has not happened over the last couple of years, and the last month [ie. June] saw a significant rise,'' 1Partner real estate company expert Helen Shank told the program.

''Nothing notable has happened in the market to explain a 7% rise over the last month,'' she went on, adding that ''if we look at specifics, for instance a new build in the Rotermanni Quarter [in central Tallinn] or a one-room flat in [residential district] Lasnamäe then we can see that not much has changed over that time.''

''If we look at flats in the outer districts of Tallinn, the most popular region continues to be Haabersti,'' she went on. Haabersti lies on the western outskirts of Tallinn.

''Whereas people used to aspire to this grand dream – house, kids, dog etc. - nowadays preferences are tending more towards apartments,'' Ms. Shank went on.

According to the Land Board the most expensive apartment over the time period May-June went for €700,000; the cheapest just €3,000.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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