Latvia Property - Guide to Buying Property in Latvia

By: Les Calvert

The Latvia Property Market

Since the liberation of the Baltic states, since the countries of the Baltic (including Latvia) regained their independence, there has been nothing short of a remarkable building boom in every major urban center in the region. In addition, there is far more activity by foreign nationals in the Latvian real estate market.

Historically, foreigners paid premium prices -- due to additional taxes and other charges and assessments -- when it came to purchasing real estate in Latvia. However, beginning the mid-1990s, the Latvian government took what amounted to rather drastic steps to eliminate the monetary penalties that accrued to foreign investors who were interested in purchasing real estate in that country. In today's Latvia, a foreign national essentially stands in the same shows as a Latvian citizen when it comes to the purchase of real estate, when it comes to the costs associated with buying real estate in Latvia.

Investment Property in Latvia

One of the most significant changes that has occurred in the Latvian real estate market since the turn of the century, since the dawn of the 21st century, has become the heavy activity of foreign nationals in that particular real estate marketplace. At the present time, foreign nationals heavily are involved in the development and ownership of real estate projects and enterprises throughout Latvia. Foreign investors in the Latvian real estate market have initiated fairly significant development projects in all of the major urban centers in the country as well as in some more remote and rural areas as well. In this process, many foreign nationals from different countries around the world have begun to realize some very significant profits from these real estate ventures.

Most real estate analysts predict that the number of foreign investors who are actively participating in the Latvian real estate market will continue to increase over the course of the coming two decades. There remains much development and modernization to undertake throughout the country -- and a seemingly bottomless number of foreign nationals who are interested in diving into the Latvian real estate game not only today but well into the future .

Residential Real Estate in Latvia - Single Family Properties in Latvia

Many foreign nationals have taken to purchasing single family residents in different parts of the country. Indeed, many of these foreign real estate buyers are purchasing older, quaint properties. Throughout the country, there truly are some magnificent older properties on the market.

With that said, and considering the age of this type of real estate, foreign nationals strongly are encouraged to undertake a very thorough structural assessment of these types of properties before they invest in them. Once a buyer enters into a sales agreement for real estate, the concept of "buyers beware" really does enter into the equation in Latvia. Truly, it is the responsibility of the buyer to make certain that the real estate he or she is purchasing is in sound and stable condition. In Latvia, a buyer really does take the property in the condition it is in -- including hidden defects -- unless the seller has engaged in serious fraudulent conduct in hiding different negative aspects of the property .

Residential Real Estate in Latvia - Apartments in Latvia

Throughout the Baltic region there has been a tremendous amount of development when it comes to the construction of apartments. This holds true in every single major urban area throughout the Baltic states. Latvia is following this same trend.

Many foreign nationals have been highly involved in the development of these new apartment projects in the major Latvian urban centers. In addition to being involved in the development and construction of these properties, foreign nationals can also be found making the purchase of a great number of these apartments. Due to the economic growth that is being experience in the Baltic region, many foreign nationals can be found spending a goodly share of each year within the country. In this regard, these business men and women do require places in which to reside and are finding purchasing apartments in Latvia to be a perfect solution .

Holiday Property in Latvia

Latvia is one of the most historically interesting countries in the entire world. As a result, since Latvia regained its independence from the Soviet Union, tourism has become a major industry and enterprise in the country. Thousands of foreign nationals stream into the country each and every year, including those that are making regular and extended stays in the country.

With the growth in the tourism industry in the country, a growing number of foreigners are now making the purchase of real estate for holiday usage. When this trend commenced in the late 1990s, many foreign nationals were buying apartments in the major cities in the country and in the major resort communities, particularly along the Baltic coast itself. Since the turn of the century, there additionally has been an increase in the percentage of foreign nationals who are buying more substantial residential dwellings -- including villas and larger homes -- in both urban and rural areas in the country. These larger residences are proving wonderful destinations for people who prefer extended holidays away from the hustle and bustle of every day life in the day to day world.

Specific steps to buying real estate property in Latvia

When it comes to the buying selling of real estate in the Baltic states, including in Latvia, it is important to remember at the outset that there is very little dickering over price. In many other countries around the world, the listed sales price for a piece of real estate really is intended as a starting point for negotiations. In many instances, a seller intentionally hikes the listed sales price upward to allow for some bargaining space and room with a potential buyer of the real estate.

In Latvia, and in other Baltic countries, the listed sales price more often than not likely will be the ultimate selling price of the real estate. Simply, there just is not much bargaining or haggling over the price of real estate in Latvia and the other nations of the Baltic region.

In Latvia, a notary performs the major functions associated with the buying and selling of real estate in that country. The notary is responsible for holding in escrow any deposit posted for the property by the buyer, making certain that the title to the real estate is genuinely held by the seller and making certain that there are no liens or encumbrances on the real estate.

The initial step in the real estate sales process in Latvia is the execution or signing of the initial contract for sale. It is at this juncture that the seller will pay to the notary a deposit, which normally is in the amount of 10% of the overall purchase price for the real estate.

After the initial contract has been executed, the notary will go about his or her business in determining if the title to the real estate properly is held by the seller and to make certain that there are no encumbrances on the title that will impact a transfer of ownership to the buyer.

It is also at this juncture that the buyer needs to have a structural engineer check out the real estate being purchased. As was referenced previously, this is important when dealing with an older property. However, and unfortunately, there have been a notable number of situations in which newer construction has not been undertaken in an appropriate and professional manner. In some instances, builders take terrible shortcuts (like not putting studs in walls) which can have horrific consequences down the road. Thus, and once more, a thorough inspection of the real estate is necessary on the part of the buyer. As an aside, it is imperative that the initial contract contain an escape clause for the buyer -- including a refund of his or her deposit -- if the structural report reveals serious defects with the property.

Once these various tasks have been concluded, the buyer and seller more forward to the execution of the final agreement which will result in the conveyance of the real estate from the seller to the buyer. Upon the execution of this contract, the title will be revamped to demonstrate the ownership interest of the buyer in the subject real estate. The title will then be filed with the land registry authorities in Latvia.

As a final note, foreign nationals (and Latvian citizens as well) need to remember that there is a value added tax attached to and associated with the sale of real estate in Latvia.

The value added tax normally amounts to 18% of the total purchase price of the subject real estate. Therefore, it is vital that the buyer keep this tax in mind when he or she is looking for financing and a mortgage loan. The value added tax assessed by the Latvian government in a realty transaction is significantly higher than similar taxes imposed in some other countries around the world

Property Abroad always recommends using a Solicitor or Lawyer.

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