After the burst of the real estate bubble during the economic crisis of 2008 - 2009 the prices are gradually rising again. Property prices depend on three main characteristics: (1) closeness to the city centre, (2) age of the building, (3) date of the last renovation of the apartment/house.
Unrenovated flats in Soviet-era block houses in popular suburbs like Purvciems, Plavnieki, or Ziepniekkalns cost approximately 23 000 - 30 000 for a one room flat, 32 000 - 40 000 for a two room flat, 36 000 - 47 000 for a three room flat. In contrast, flats in newly built apartment complexes in these suburbs are several times more expensive: around 50 000 to 70 000 for a one room flat, 80 000 to 100 000 for a two room flat, and 120 000 to 200 000 for a three room flat.
Prices in the city centre are approximately by 20-30% more expensive than in these suburbs. In turn, prices in the more distant suburbs (approx. one hour by public transport to the city center) are by 20% lower, and prices in other regions of Latvia are by 20-50% lower.
Around 85% of all properties in Latvia are found online. The four best websites for starting a search are:
Searching for properties in newspaper ads is not very popular, generally, newspapers are a better source for searching available real estate in smaller cities than in the capital Riga.
For property ads consult the print versions of the four big dailies:
Hiring a real estate agent may save you a lot of time and worry. An agent will consult you on your search, accompany you to the viewings, help with drawing up the necessary documents for signing the contract and, if necessary, also consult on options for receiving a credit. The price of the rental agent's services can vary from agent to agent thus it is necessary to discuss it beforehand and sign a contract. The agent is paid only when the contract for buying the property has been signed.
Keep in mind: if the real estate agent is hired by the landlord in whose property you are interested in, the costs of the agent should be covered by the property owner. Typically, depending on the agreement and the total cost of the transaction, the agent is paid 1% to 5%. The more expensive the property, the smaller percentage goes to the real estate agent. The value added tax of 21% can be either included in the percent or added on top. The price for the real estate agent's services is negotiated between the client and the agent and is paid once the deal has been closed and the payment of the property has been completed.
You can search for companies and individual agents on the homepage of the Latvian Real Estate Association.
Once you have found a property that you would like to buy, you have to make an offer. You may try to make a lower offer than the asking price, but be prepared to pay the full price. If your offer is accepted, the next step is signing the purchase agreement and the document for signing of the property to your name (nostiprinajuma lugums). Both need to be approved by a notary and it is highly recommended to have a lawyer to look over the contracts before you sign.
Once the property has been purchased you have to register yourself as the new owner at the land registry (Zemesgramata). The legal paperwork for registering the property needs to be prepared by a notary and costs approximately 100 EUR.
The land registry also handles payments of the property tax. Depending on the property value, the yearly tax rate for residential property is between 0.2% and 0.6% of the cadastral value of the property.
If a property owner has been unable to pay the loan on their purchased property, it becomes available for public auction. Auctioned properties cost, on average, 30-40 % less than the market value. However, this lower price is tied to certain risks and disadvantages. Most notably:
The official list of property auctions is published on the Internet portal of Latvijas Vestnesis, the official newspaper of the Republic of Latvia. In addition, the homepage Solis.lv offers a comprehensive list of all publicly announced auctions in Latvia. Both websites are only available in Latvian.