Buying Property in Belarus

Belarus is a country with a fast-growing market for real estate. In 2007 the square meter for the apartments and houses situated in the very centre of Minsk, the capital of Belarus, costed $2,000 – 2,500. This was 300% more than it was 5 years ago. Since 2005, the annual price growth is around 50% per year. The real estate market is booming but the regulations prevent the investment of foreigners. Not quite all the foreigners: Russians and Belarusians have the equal  rights for buying the real estate in Belarus.

Minsk is the most important region for the real estate boom. In the centrally organized country there are also other, smaller centres such as Vitebsk, Brest, Grodno, Gomel and Mogilev. The prices of flats and houses here are much lower than in Minks. The average price per square metre in Grodno is currently at around $1000. What concerns small cottage settlements, so they are usually called datchas and situated in the scenic tourist regions of Belarus, particularly located on beautiful lakes and forests. One can find very favorable offers for dachas there. The problem is: you can’t buy them if you are not the Russian foreigner. But you can always rent the real estate you like. The Belarusian government do not sell the land to private persons. So, if you are really interested in buying property, then you can buy a cottage or an apartment without the land.

Prerequisite for the purchase of property or the long-term rights to use it for non-Russian foreigners in Belarus is the residence permit. Even as co-owner of a local operating company – usually a joint venture, one can indirectly be the owner of a property in Belarus. What is important here is the Belarusian status of the company – mere subsidiaries of foreign companies located in Belarus play on the real estate market only as a tenant and never as a buyer. In this case the owner should be registered as a company and not as a private person.

In addition to the brokers, there are two important structures in Belarus that also play a role in buying property: the notaries and the agency for the state registry. A notary is to verify a purchase contract responsibility. The agency for the state registration examines he papers and causes the official state registration of the real estate – transaction. The service of the state agencies is really cheap – the agency for the state registration requires only small fees for their work – 10,000 Belarusian rubles, that is about 5 euros.

Brokers demand much more money for their service as there are no fixed rules for their remuneration. The broker in Minsk requires about 2,000 USD if the search for the apartment is based in Minsk and if the customer buys the apartment then. If the buyer and seller already know each other and they need only the papers to be prepared, then the broker requires around 500 USD for the service. There is a large real estate sales association that is called “Nedvizhimost” in Minsk. The association guarantees the quality of implementing a contract under its own rules. When you are looking for an apartment, then it is better to focus on one person. This guarantees the security of implementing the contract to a certain extent. Latest information on the real estate market in Belarus can be found at the state property website – unfortunately, it is in Russian only.

A real estate purchase in Belarus is not currently recommended or virtually impossible for foreigners. One can face these difficulties in a possible succession, too.