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Real Estate

Your Place in the Sun
Kim Waddoup

The joys and pleasures of owning a property abroad have long been enjoyed by many Europeans and are now becoming popular in Russia. Stable salaries, relatively low living costs and the increase in disposable income are resulting in more and more people in Russia now looking for properties abroad.

Individual Russian investors are primarily in two sectors: first, those who buy for security and investment (speculation and rental income) and second, those buying for a safe investment for their own enjoyment.

A luxury property in Phuket

So where are the areas around the world that are currently most popular with buyers from Russia? Bulgaria is most certainly at the top of the list with more than 100,000 owners already there. The Black Sea coast of Bulgaria is extremely popular for a number of reasons: it is just a short flight to Varna and then a 30 minute drive to the coastal towns around Sunny Beach, the infrastructure is in place and there are few language difficulties. With the long school holidays, many families are attracted to Bulgaria primarily due to the language and culture similarities, and it is much easier for a family to stay in Bulgaria than in many other destinations around the world. The region offers a great deal also for ex-pats looking for an alternative to the expense of a Dacha with superb golf courses, moderate climate and sensible prices.

For example the upscale Atlantis is located close to Burgas at Sarafovo just 200 meters from the beach, is a comprehensive, medium sized complex with full facilities. Studio apartments start from € 54,000, 1-bedroom from € 67,500 and two bedroom apartments from € 99,000.

Cottages at Ivanovia Kolibi close to Lozenets are part of a moderate development that will consist of 33 units each with its own garden. The size of the cottages range from 150 to 180 sq metres and prices start at € 120,000.

The Thracian Cliffs Golf and Spa Resort is located on the northern Black Sea coast and, according to Gary Player (the designer of the course) is destined to become one of Europe’s top resorts with exclusive hotels and a top name spa located around the course. With a range of apartments and villas, the resort has property to suite all budgets. Studios start from € 138,000, one bedroom € 151,000 to three bedroom apartments from € 380,000. Cottages/villas range from € 320,000 to € 1 million. All purchases include membership of the superb 18 hole golf club.

In the last years Turkey has also become extremely popular with buyers as extensive flight connections and a simple visa on arrival situation (due to become visa free shortly). Russians have generally bought in the Alanya and Belek areas, where Brits and Germans have tended towards the Bodrum/Fethiye areas on the Aegean Coast. For golfers the Belek area is a hit with 14 courses within a short drive. In Belek apartments start from € 60,000 and villas from € 180,000. Alanya offers a vast range of apartments from € 45,000, three-bedroom duplexes from € 175,00 and villas from € 250,000.

The overseas property business virtually started in Spain with thousands of people making their new homes in the south of the country along the Costas. Victims of their own success led to an unprecedented number of developments to satisfy this demand. However the recent recession has seen Spanish property prices fall dramatically and there is currently so much property available, it is hard to choose! Most prices have dropped by more than 40% and some even more. There are now exciting bargains to be found in most of the Costas with one bedrooms from € 39,000, three bedroom from € 72,000 and villas from € 115,000. Naturally, prices differ tremendously from location to location, but as so many banks have extensive stocks of repossessed property they are offering tremendous incentives to buy. In addition, to greatly reduced prices, they are often offering 90% financing with no repayments for the first 3 years. Prices cannot go much lower than they are at the moment, so maybe now is the time to buy!

Portugal has also always been a popular destination and more Russian buyers are now appreciating the relaxed atmosphere and safe investment of Portugal. There are two main areas, the popular Algarve, which attracts mass tourism in summer and the more laid back areas around Lisbon and the Silver Coast. Maybe not so exotic, the Silver Coast offers a wide range of properties from modern developments to charming converted farmhouses.

Cyprus, with its warm, moderate climate all year is a perennial favorite and prices have remained relatively stable during the recession. New golf developments have increased the popularity of the island and most of the developers have offices in Moscow to assist you with full details.

Atlantis, Bulgaria

People are also looking further abroad. Thailand is a most popular holiday destination(no visa) and more people are buying property throughout the country. Bangkok offers some interesting investment possibilities and there are a variety of specialized developments also available. Most popular are Phuket where a one bedroom will cost from € 79,000 and a small villa from € 123,000. There are also many spectacular villas available. The alternative Hua Hin offers a quieter atmosphere to enjoy the real Thai culture and hospitality.

Most important in choosing where to buy is to be certain that this is a destination that you will be happy to return to many times. Some people buy on impulse during a vacation and find that they no longer wish to return preferring to explore new destinations. Always go and stay in the area/region in which you are looking to buy and make certain that it suits you and your family. The strongest piece of advice is always to work with professionals. Ensure that the owner/developer has a successful track record and has completed on time(in the case of new build). Always ensure that you have a professional and reliable lawyer working with you. Generally it is recommended to use a local specialist who understands the language and the legal specifics of your chosen area. Visit specialized property shows (now available in Moscow) and read magazines to learn the different offers around the world. Once you have chosen, the buying procedure is generally relatively simple and the joys and pleasure of having your own property abroad will be most enjoyable for you and your family for many years to come.

About the author. Kim Waddoup has lived in many different countries and created the first Moscow International Property Show in 2003 and International Residence magazine in 2004. The aiGroup now organises eight specialised events for Overseas Property each year in Moscow and St. Petersburg. With his wealth of experience, knowledge and contacts in this sector he is recognized as the leading authority on overseas property in Russia.

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