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Overview of the residential market in Tartu and Tartu county (as at the end of December 2016)

 

In Tartu county, most transactions with improved residential land are made in Ülenurme municipality and Tartu town. Transaction activity is followed by Tartu municipality, Haaslava, Luunja and Tähtvere municipality. Differently from the transactions in Tartu town the near municipalities mostly concern new developments. Irrespective of the regional difference of transaction activity, the price levels of Tartu town and its neighbouring areas are not very differently priced, when considering the statistics. In the neighbouring municipalities of Tartu the transactions with the lowest prices have been done in Tähtvere municipality, where there are also only single residential regions.

 

Price level and transaction activity growth were led in Q4 by Tartu town’s neighbouring municpalities

In Q4 2016, 117 transactions with improved residential land were made in Tartu county as a whole, which was by 29% less than in Q3. Transaction price arithmetic average was 91,574 euros and median price 72,000 euros. Arithmetic average increased thus by 7,6% and median price 5,4%. Compared to Q4 2015, transaction activity increased by 18%, arithmetic average by 14% and median price by 9,1%. Residential market indicators have been rather unchanged; growth in transaction activity and price levels has occurred in the municipalities mainly on the account of new developments and more expensive secondary market objects. The residential market has moved away from the county centre, thus the level of transactions and price levels have been retained by the transactions in Tartu’s neighbouring municipalities.

 

In Q4 2016, 27 improved residential land transactions were made in Tartu town, which was 51% less than in Q3 and 23% less than in Q4 2015. Transaction price arithmetic average was 108,000 euros and median price 100,000 euros, which decreased from previous quarter by 2,3% and 2,0%. Arithmetic average increased from the same period by 7,6% while median price decreased by 6,5%. Price level has remained on a rather same level in a quarterly perspective, but the number of transactions has started to decrease somewhat. Decline in transaction activity is supported the seasonal nature of the market, the poor structure of dwellings with optimal closed net surface that are in a good state, and constantly increasing offer-based prices.

 

Due to the seasonality of the real estate market, it became more active in the larger areas in Estonia in Q3 both in August and September. Similarly to previous years, the residential market has lost part of its activity due to the approaching of winter in Q4. Differently from Tallinn and previous years, the expected growth in price levels in Christmas in Tartu and its neighbouring area was not seen; the more regular price increase in the end of the year became apparent already in November.

 

In December, a total of 33 improved residential land transactions awere made in Tartu county, the number of transactions increased from November by 11% but from December 2015 the number of transactions increased even by 50%. Arithmetic average transaction price was 104,000 eurots and median price 92,000 euros. Arithmetic average increased from November by 12% but decreased from December 2015 by 1,3%. Median price decreased since November by 3,2% while the decrease from the same time in 2015 was by 4,2%. The growth in price levels in the last years deduces from the transactions with more expensive secondary market and new developments, thus the price increase has occurred on the residential market as a whole.

 

In December 9 improved residential land transactions were made in Tartu town, with the arithmetic average transaction price of 84,000 euros and median price of 92,000 euros. Compared to November, 13% more transactions were done in Tartu, while the arithmetic average transaction price decreased by 43% and median price by 22%. Compared to December 2015, 25% less transactions were made in Tartu town, arithmetic average price level decreased by 29% and median price 28%. Major changes in the price levels depend on the few transactions and the fact that the sales of new developments and more expensive dwellings has become more frequent. In term of transactions in December, there were many transactions below 10,000 euros, which were not free market transactions but which enhance the decrease I statistic average price level.

 

Regional specificities of the residential market and consumer preferences

In terms of Tartu town, the most preferred residential areas are Tammelinn, Veeriku, Raadi-Kruusamäe and Ihaste. In these areas, there are also the largest residential areas in Tartu town. Differently from the general buildings in Tartu town, consumers do not prefer to acquire timber construction buildings characteristic to Tartu town. Both in Tartu town and its neighbouring municipalities mainly buildings with a stone construction and ground heating are looked for, the closed net surface of which remains between 150-200 m2.

 

The prices of residential buildings that need renovation start in Tartu town usually from 80 000 – 100,000 euros. The sales offers and transactions of residential buildings in a good state are usually between 120,000 – 170,000 euros. The price level of residential buildings in a very good state starts from 170,000 euros, high quality renovated buildings with a good location or new developments cost up to 250,000 euros. Most often sought buildings in Tartu are single family dwellings between 150,000 – 175,000 euros. Most important is considered to e the spatial plan and beneficial utilities.

 

Due to the scarcity of new developments in Tartu town suitable offers are mainly looked for in Ülenurme municipality, followed by Luunja, Tartu and Haaslava municipality. In the neighbouring areas of Tartu the price depends mainly on the location and the surrounding living environment, infrastructure, construction quality and the related solution. Price levels in areas close to the town are mainly between 200,000 – 250,000 euros.

 

Arco Vara estimates that the typical house purchaser in Tartu or its neighbouring areas is a young family with one to three children. In terms of suitable offers, the choice depends on the household income and thus loan capacity. Due to new developments the price levels are becoming more expensive when moving outwards from Tartu town, but the areas away from the small towns are ina lower price class (up to 80,000 euros).

 

In case of unimproved residential land, the most preferred plots are with communications (water and sewerage, electricity). The prices of unimproved residential land plots with communications in the neighbouring areas of Tartu town are mainly between 20,000 – 50,000 euros. The highest price levels have been in Raadimõisa residential area and Ihaste. The plots suitable for building of individual dwellings have been available less than the demand, which has been promoted mainly by the financing possibilities for development following the financial crisis and thus the low interest of real estate developers for planning and developing of residential areas.

 

Offer-demand dynamics

In 2016, 521 improved residential land transactions were made in Tartu county, which was by 9% more than in 2015 – the number of transactions was on the highest level since last years, being similar to the number of transactions in 2004 and 2007. Arithmetic average price level increased from 2015 by 17% and median price by 24%, price level has increased for new developments and more expensive secondary market objects. In the neighbouring municipalities of Tartu town interest has increased for new developments, this especially in Haaslava municipality.

 

The price levels of Tartu town and Tartu county residential market have grown in a stable pace in the last years, the increase became much quicker in 2016. The number of offers on the residential market was in a quick growth trend since 2013, but in 2016 the number of offers started to decrease to the similar level. In 2016 the number of offers of residential buildings decreased in Tartu county and Tartu town from June to September, after which offers have started to increase again, this especially outside the county centre. Based on short-term statistics, the price levels have somewhat increased on the background of the changes in the number of offers, which is mainly due to the constant addition of new developments.

 

When acquiring new developments or a residential building, consumers are choosing first between objects with the highest price, while the consumer confidence and requirements remain high. In terms of Tartu town, new developments have mainly built to more expensive areas – Kvissentali and in Ihaste, Hipodroomi development area; the expansion of these areas will remain topical also in the near future.

 

Outside the town, the historically most preferred area for buying a residential building and construction has been Ülenurme municipality. As a result of the fast growth of Ülenurme municipality and the related construction activity the suitable plots for construction are coming to an end in more preferred areas, thus the development is calming down. Construction of new developments has increased above all in the neighbouring municipality of Ülenurme municipality - Haaslava municipality. Haaslava municipality has many areas where the plots measured out in the boom period are finally finding purchasers.

 

Construction of an individual dwelling takes usually a year. The big difference in the number of construction and usage permits can depend on the fact that the absence of a usage permit does not hinder the putting into use of a dwelling but its sales (if the purchaser wants to finance it with bank loan). As single-family dwellings are usually built for oneself, not for sale, many dwellings receive usage permit with a temporal shift.

 

Forecasts

Compared to apartment market, residential building market is rather little active; thus, conclusions cannot be made for a longer perspective based on short-term statistics. Some statistic price changes depend on the transactions done with single very high or low prices. The residential market has also price levels for which sellers are ready to negotiate the price; thus, when reaching the actual transaction, offer and transaction prices usually differ by up to 10% (according to statistics of Arco Vara in 2016, in Tartu county on the average of 5%).

 

After the construction legislation that entered into force on 1 July 2015 residential building market has become more complicated as for Estonian real estate market. When purchasing with a bank loan, the credit institutions require that the documentation related to the dwelling is correct (incl. construction and usage permits, construction project and in case of smaller changes also construction notice/usage notice). Above all illegal buildings need legalisation; this happens mainly with older immovables where several outbuildings have been also built to the yard besides the dwelling.

 

In addition to available documentation and its importance access to the properties from public roads is also important. Property appraisers encounter many properties for which access from a public road has not been ensured. Until there is no access through a legal servitute, banks do not usually agree to finance the purchase.

 

Leaving aside the restrictions of commercial banks for enlivening of the residential market, no major changes are expected on the residential building market of Tallinn and its neighbouring areas in the near future. Dwellings are searched and purchased mainly by households that earn more than the average and whose social and economic welfare remains positive according to forecasts in the near future. According to estimates from Arco Vara, the prices of residential buildings in more demanded areas and plans can rise somewhat, but shortening of the sales period of more expensive residential buildings cannot be expected. Based on the statistics of Arco Vara, the average sales period of single, semi-detached dwellings, terraced house boxes in Tartu county was 272 days in 2016.

 

In Q1 2017, annual decline can be expected in the number of transactions due to the seasonal nature of the real estate market, where some moments of decline can be also seen in the formation of price levels. Average prices will be retained both by new developments and more expensive secondary market objects and also by the current high offer prices with the somewhat poor offer structure. In Q1, some addition of offers can be expected due to seasonality, which deduces from the fact that the interest for buying real estate decreases in winter; thus, the number of transactions decreases and the number of offers increases.