And updated version of this post is available here.
The simple answer is “Absolutely!”. It’s sometimes surprising to me how often I hear the question of whether foreigners can buy real estate in Russia.
But there are also many other questions that arise, such as whether it is possible for foreigners to secure mortgages towards their real estate purchase in Russia. The quick answer on that is, yes it is also possible.
Blogging is my hobby, both with this Planet Russia blog and also with The American blog and YouTube channel, both in Russian. But one of my main sources of income is the real estate company I founded some years ago, called Expat Flat, which provides real estate service for foreigners in Russia.
I really enjoy both sharing about life in Russia with the blogs, but also making foreigners feel at home in Russia through the real estate service.
I recently made a quick and simple video about foreigners owning real estate in Russia for the Expat Flat Facebook page. Check it out, and then let’s look at some of the details of buying real estate in Russia.
Now, let’s look through some of the details:
It is possible for foreigners to secure mortgages in Russia. Generally speaking, you will need to prove a steady official income. And in most cases, you will need a down payment of 15-20%. The interest rate can be 10-12% annual. It is best to find a reputable mortgage broker or real estate agency to help you in this process. I also recommend only working with major banks, because as a rule of thumb they are less likely to nickel and dime you with the small print.
If you are looking for real estate investment opportunity in Russia, I would strongly recommend that you consider looking at commercial property options. The return can be higher than residential real estate. And you can hire a property manager to take care of all of the details, so that you can live your life comfortably either in Russia or abroad.
Quite often, commercial property that is for sale already has a long-term reliable tenant, so that you can be immediately guaranteed a continuing source of income.
Of course, there are many types of commercial property in Russia. I highlighted some office space, located directly across the street from the Kremlin, in this video:
As with all the points in this post, there are plenty of exceptions and nuance. But as a foreigner you can also own land in Russia. I own a few small plots of residential land. And I think this can be one of the most intriguing options if you are in Moscow long-term on a budget or in a smaller city around Russia.
In the Moscow region, for example, it is possible to buy a piece of land and build a small, simple house, altogether for under $35,000 USD. Of course, if you are new to Russia, you will most certainly want a reliable partner to help you through all of the building process and red tape. Hiring someone reliable will save you money… and nerves!
In most cases, the simplest thing to do is buy an apartment. The process is simple, but again, it is strongly recommended to hire someone to work with you, and to make sure that all of the documentation is correct and above board, and to help you analyze the best deals on the market, and perhaps offer a few options that you might not have thought of before.
Here’s another video of a flat in Moscow that again shows that there are many unexpected real estate options in Russia.
This is where things get interesting. The property tax is shockingly cheap, but most importantly, Russia changed the law on real estate sale for non-residents at the beginning of this year. This is important because in the past, there was a heavy tax on the sale if you were not a resident of Russia at the time of the sale. But now, with the changes in the law, if you have held the property for five years or more, there is ZERO tax in Russia on the sale. This is important to understand if you are looking at being in Russia long-term and want to avoid paying rent, or if you are looking at investment opportunities.
Hope that information helps! If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to comment below or to contact me at Expat Flat. I look forward to continuing to open Russia to you a bit at a time through this blog, and if you are serious about living in Russia long-term, perhaps I can be of some assistance with real estate.