Investors look for prime properties

  • 2010-07-07
  • Staff and wire reports

RIGA - There is significant interest from the C.I.S. countries about making investments in Latvia and receiving permanent residence permits in return, reports Most ‘investors’ wish to invest in real estate in Riga and Jurmala, as Rietumu bank and legal offices Inlat plus noted to the daily Diena.

Saeima endorsed the controversial amendments to the Immigration Law this past spring, which stipulate that citizens from third countries can receive five-year Latvian residency permits if they invest a certain amount of money in real estate, businesses or banks in Latvia. No such deals have actually taken place so far, because foreign nationals will be able to apply for the permits only from July 1. However, a number of such deals are pending, the two companies confirm.
According to Rietumu bank Vice President Ruslans Stecjuks, the bank is hoping to conclude deals within one week with several individuals from Russia and other C.I.S. countries regarding investments in Rietumu bank subordinated capital, at over 1 million euros in total. There have also been inquiries from third countries about the real estate market in Latvia. Some customers have already inspected several properties and are now considering buying them.

“Their interest varies; most are interested in furnished apartments in Riga and at the sea, also in Jurmala,” said Stecjuks. These people, mostly from C.I.S. countries, have shown interest in high-end property that costs 200,000 to 300,000 euros, on the average.

Inlat plus representative Santa Garsniece said that 95 percent of those inquiring about Latvian residence permits are willing to invest money in Latvia by purchasing properties in downtown Riga or Jurmala. Most such potential investors are interested in apartments that cost over 100,000 lats (142,800 euros). The law office says it receives 10 - 15 such inquiries each day on average. “That is a huge number,” said Garsniece, adding that most such inquiries are received from Russia, less so from Belarus, plus a few from India.

Interest about investing in businesses, the stated intention of the legislation, has been underwhelming, though.
The Citizenship and Migration Affairs Office said that investments in real estate, banks or enterprises do not automatically entitle investors from third countries to a permanent residence permit, rather only to apply for the permits. When such applications are considered, several aspects are analyzed. Additional review of the application involves checking whether the applicant is on the list of “wanted persons” by Latvia or by Schengen area countries.