Russian Buyers of international real estate: who, what, where?

(scroll to P.P.S. below)

Russian Buyers of international properties? Who are they? What do they buy and where? Russian analytical portal Real Estate Indicators IRN made an attempt to create a profile of Russian speaking Buyers of international real estate back in November 2008 (with more recent updates that are further below that allow you to follow a decade of history of Russian investments abroad). Here is the scoop:

"Headlines speak for themselves: From Russia – With Cash, says Wall Street Journal; Russians Snap up Australian Luxury, BBC continues. You're Not Imagining That Russian Buying Spree, New York Observer agrees.

"Wealthy Russians burst into international real estate market and buy expensive properties all over the world.

"The economy slowing down has just made Russians to be even more interested in real estate investing. Overseas Property Professional Magazine states in one of the latest articles that in 2008 Russian Trading System Index (the total of all Russian stocks) has dropped 75% and that makes Russian stocks the cheapest among developing countries.

"The Russian stock market can't be called reliable. Low oil prices are damaging to the business activity indexes in spite of the strong government support. A. Konovalov, the editor-in-chief of the leading Russian international real estate portal Prian, comments on this situation saying that in these troubled times people think of a more reliable way of investing their money – in real estate, for example.

"Investing in domestic real estate in Russia is not only costly, but it's risky as well. Analytics show that real estate prices in the major cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg are as high as never before, and in some segments there are already more sellers than buyers. Instability of the national stock market along with the fear of falling domestic real estate prices turned wealthy Russians to look for a safe harbor for their investments abroad. A. Konovalov expects that in the future the interest in international real estate will only grow in Russia.

Russian investors – who are they?

"It's no wonder that real estate agencies are trying to win this new segment of Russian investors. The market players are eager to know – who these newly made wealthy Russians are and what kind of properties they are interested in. To tell the truth, this market is hard to classify.

"A. Konovalov says that wealthy Russians are mostly interested in high quality properties in London, Cote d'-Azur, Paris, Toscana and New York. Middle class Russians are looking for affordable condos and homes up to EUR 100,000 in Eastern and Central Europe and Near East. As Mr. Konovalov explains, even an average retired Russian person who has rather limited resources can afford to buy a property abroad if he sells his Russian home or condo.

What do they buy?

"A. Konovalov noticed that over the last five years the number of Russian owners of international homes or condos has been growing. Russians buy properties abroad for various reasons.

"According to the research conducted by Prian, 20% buy in foreign resort areas for vacationing with families. The next 20% are searching for countries to retire to. The whopping 27.5% expressed their willingness to immigrate to the country where they buy real estate. Just 5.4% of the respondents consider owning international properties as a symbol of their high social and business status. The rest are buying as investment or for business purposes. Some consider renting the property out, others are hoping for the equity gain while selling later.

"As A. Konovalov further reports, Russians mostly buy homes and land. They are less interested in commercial real estate.

"The editor-in-chief of Prian states that the number of inquiries from the portal visitors, potential buyers of properties abroad, increased by 15% in October 2008. It became 580,000 in comparison with 500,000 in September.

Where do they buy?

"Russians are mostly interested in European real estate as Europe is closer. The number of those who want to buy in more remote places as Egypt or Thailand is relatively small. But their number might increase in connection with lower credit ratings of some Eastern European countries. Prian publishes the top 10 countries that the visitors, Russian Buyers of international real estate, search for, here they are:

1. Bulgaria – 14.5%
2. Germany – 8%
3. Finland – 7.9%
4. Spain – 7.8%
5. USA – 5.2%
6. France – 4.8%
7. Czech Republic – 4.6%
8. Italy – 4.3%
9. Egypt – 3.2%
10. Turkey – 3%

"There are also Montenegro and Greece in the top 15 countries searched. There is a strong interest in Thailand growing. Cyprus seems to be in less demand, it should be seasonal.

"The growing activity of Russian investors in the international real estate market is a part of a huge new trend, no doubt about it. The growing prosperity of the country creates new millionaires and billionaires. It develops in Russia, India and China nowadays. The number and diversity of Russian Buyers of international real estate will be growing as no barriers can stop people fascinated with wealth."

I've translated this article by A. Bocharov, published in November 2008, from Russian to English. (Please see more recent stats updated below).

Note: over the years Russian preferences in countries and types of properties may have changed - watch the recent info below for your practical purposes!


Olga Kellen

Olga Kellen, 

"Anything Russian",
English - Russian Translator,
Associate member of ATA,
American Translators Association

P.S. Here's the March 2009 update of some stats from Prian:

The top ten countries that Russian investors are interested to purchase properties in (rounded to 0.5%):

1. Bulgaria - 19%
2. USA - 8%
3. Spain -7.5%
4. Germany - 7%
5. Finland - 5.5%
6. Italy - 5%
7. France - 4%
8. Czech Republic - 3.5%
9. Montenegro - 3%
10. Egypt - 2.5%

Prian comments that the interest for the USA properties has been steadily increasing among Russian Buyers of international real estate for more than 6 months now. The demand is higher than the supply as US realtors are not active enough selling to Russians.

Here's the May 2009 update of some stats from Prian:

The top ten countries that the Russians are interested to purchase properties in (rounded to 0.5%):

1. Bulgaria - 18%
2. Germany - 10%
3. Spain - 7.5%
4. Finland - 7%
5. USA - 6.5%
6. Italy - 5%
7. Montenegro - 3%
8. Turkey - 3%
9. France - 3%
10. Czech Republic and Egypt - 2.5% each

Germany has jumped up in demand a lot. Austria and Switzerland are also in demand although they are not in top 10. It speaks out that Russian buyers are interested in older reliable stable real estate markets. The USA goes down in demand as American realtors don't know how to pay commission to Russian realtors referring buyers to them, so the Russian Buyers are being directed to other countries by their Russian realtors where Russian realtors do get their commission split.

Here's the summary of 2010 update of some stats from IRN:

The top six countries where during 2010 the Russians were interested to purchase properties in:

1. Italy - 35%
2. Bulgaria - 15%
3. USA - 12%
4. Czech Republic - 9%
5. Spain - 8%
6. Germany - 7%

P.P.S. Here's the summary of 2012 update of some stats from RBC: What countries Russian investors preferred in 2012 

Here's the summary of 2013 update of some stats from Prian: Russian Buyers of international real estate in 2013

Here's the summary of 2014 update from Lenta: Russian Buyers' Snapshot 2014

What countries Russian Buyers preferred in 2015 from Prian: Top 30 countries for Russian Buyers in 2015 

What countries Russian Buyers preferred in 2016 from Prian: Top 30 countries for Russian Buyers in 2016

What countries Russian Investors preferred in 2017 from Kommersant

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