Russian interest in real estate, both domestic and abroad, has increased steadily over the last decade. However, this has led to a lot of conjecture among European estate agents. The western mentality creates the assumption that the typical Russian buyer will be spending an extravagant amount of money in the sunniest possible destination, with a keen interest in new citizenship. Meravista's research reveals that this is far from the reality.
Meravista has reviewed Russia-originated reports, research, websites and internet search almost exclusively, to develop a report based on the Russian perspective of buying habits, rather than the West's perception of why, what and where this nation is investing its money.
The investment buyer
Meravista's research shows that the key priority for Russian buyers looking to invest in foreign property is stability, making the UK the current number one choice, with Germany and France following closely behind. Affluent Russians seeking profit and status, account for 20% of all non-resident property purchases in London and Paris with an average budget of 5.5 million dollars.
Applying the same rationale of stability, Bulgaria, Spain and Portugal are considered the worst picks currently for investment due to economic uncertainty. However, analysts also acknowledge that the rock bottom prices of real estate in Spain andPortugal are actually a great opportunity to buy. They merely caution that it may take 3 to 5 years before prices rebound to allow a sale for profit. This appears to be a more realistic take on the majority of Russian property purchases.
The holiday home buyer
More than half of all Russian purchases are for a second home.
Along with the recent spread of wealth in Russia, the nation's 'Life in two houses' tradition of owning dachas (summer houses) in the countryside has reached the middle class. The difference today is that Russians are now enjoying the opportunity to have their dacha in a foreign country. Typical price ranges preferred by Russians, are between €100,000 and €200,000 regardless of country.
More than 95% of all purchases involve the Russian buyer retaining his or her existing home in Russia. This indicates that residency and citizenship in the EU does not appear to be an objective for the majority. That being said, the recent crisis between Ukraine and Russia has seen a large increase in UK property inquiries from wealthy Russian buyers seeking the possibility of relocation to avoid the consequences of economic isolation by the West.
When Meravista surveyed agents in the Algarve, asking whether they had dealt with Russian buyers in the past 15 months, it received a mixed response. The majority reported few or no enquiries from the Russian market. A few said that the Russian clients were here to take advantage of the Golden Visa programme.
Where they are putting their money
Portugal's Agency for Foreign Investment and Commerce (AICEP) lists Russia as the 21st out of 55 listed countries making direct investment in Portugal. The leading property portal in Russia, Prian.ru, reported the top 30 countries Russian buyers went for in 2013. Bulgaria, Spain and Germany topped their list with Portugal ranking 20th overall and the UK 22nd. Prian.ru's numbers, however, are merely a reflection of the inventory of that portal.
A more democratic approach is the measure of search volume for foreign property on Yandex.ru, Russia's largest search engine with a 60% share of the search market in that country. Using a Cyrillic broad term search on Yandex.ru for real estate and country, Meravista finds the actual interests of Russians to be somewhat different, with Bulgaria and Spain still on top butPortugal ranking 15th overall and the UK 32nd.
Even though Spain and Portugal share similar economic problems, culture and geographic location, the Russian public prefersSpain vastly more than Portugal. This is in spite of, as reported by Meravista, the reality that the cost of Portugal property is much lower than Spain's. The reason that buyers are targeting Spain, is the property listing saturation of Spain, Bulgaria and all other front runners in the property portals of Russia such as Prian.ru.
Russian property portals are dominated by the listings of estate agencies from countries who have taken the initiative to broadcast their properties there. Portugal is not one of those countries.
Meravista is currently listing over 14,000 properties for sale in the Algarve. Nearly 6,000 of these fall within the €100,000 to €200,000 price range. This alone indicates an opportunity for Portugal to target Russian buyers. But, for Portuguese estate agents, or any other country's agents for that matter, to succeed in the Russian market with its new wealth, a demand must be created where none currently exists.
Meravista is the world's largest property portal devoted exclusively to the Algarve. It brings visitors the latest state-of-the art search technology, making it easy for to find their perfect property in the Algarve.
Property buyers can search for their retirement Quinta in Tavira, luxury villa in Quinta do Lago, a second home in Lagos or a beachfront apartment in Vilamoura.