TALLINN - Finns have shown a markedly higher interest in acquiring real estate in Estonia now that the country is set to join the EU, real estate experts say.
Finnish real estate agents claim that many of their compatriots who in the past preferred Spain have begun to look around in Estonia for better deals.
"If you compare what the market was a year ago, the situation today is very different. Prejudice is disappearing, and Estonians no longer fear that foreigners are flocking in to buy up all real estate," says Kyosti Kuure, a Finnish real estate expert who has been involved in buying properties for six years.
"I think that the key was when Estonia said 'yes' to the European Union."
Another Finnish real estate agent, Sami Kurko, agrees with this viewpoint, adding, "After the referendum on Sept. 14 the interest of Finns towards buying real estate in Estonia has gone up notably."
Kristel Kivinurm, head of Trigon Capital, says that the interest of Finns toward the investment opportunities in the economy and real estate market of Estonia has gone up remarkably in the last year. However, she says that there has probably not been a sharp increase after the referendum since Finns had been expecting Estonia to support accession.
"The interest of Finns and other foreigners toward Estonian real estate has gone up mainly because Estonia is now regarded as a reliable and accepted partner. Secondly, as real estate prices have been increasing, more investors regard it as an attractive investment," says Kadri Lindpere of Arco Vara Group, a leading real estate company.
The most popular real estate properties for Finns are apartments in central Tallinn and Parnu, as well as small summer houses near bodies of water. The price difference between apartments in Tallinn and Helsinki is still considerable.
"Finns are buying apartments in Tallinn for two reasons: to invest their free funds and to reduce their costs," said Trigon's Kivinurm. "There are many businessmen who are considering relocating from Helsinki, since not only is real estate in Estonia cheaper but also life itself."
According to Kivinurm, this relocation from Helsinki is likely to remain a Tallinn-peculiar phenomenon since only 80 kilometers separate the two towns.
"If necessary businessmen can take a fast ferry or a helicopter taxi to the other town," said Kivinurm.