Finding property in Latvia
To buy a Latvian property, you must first find a suitable one. There are two main ways to do that:
- searching on your own
- employing a real estate agency
The recommended method is solely dependent on your goals, resources, will to engage in various legal and assessment processes, as well as the type of property you are interested in.
Searching on your own
Searching on your own for a Latvian property is a viable, but somewhat limiting choice. It is mostly suitable for private individuals that are interested in buying residential real estate, who have more time and limited funds. A legal person is advised to employ the services of a local real estate guidance company for a more effective search that yields quicker and more reliable results, while most of the work is done for you, and you only need to approve it.
It is not advisable to choose this method if you are in need of commercial or industrial properties, unless you have a skilled real estate agent in your team. This is due to the fact that a poorly chosen property with incur significant losses to your enterprise in the long run, and to avoid that you need an agent that is also knowledgeable in Latvian real estate market. Another thing to consider is the time - if you have plenty of it on your hands, then searching on your own is a completely valid tactic. On the contrary, if you need to acquire a property fast, it is wiser to employ an agent, for their networks allow for a wider, more thorough and effective search.
Acquiring lists of properties
Searching on your own starts with acquiring a list of available properties. For this, there are two ways. First, you can use search engines and look up words like real estate in Latvia, buy Latvian property, buy a house in Riga, etc. This will return a mix of more or less property selling websites, from which you can proceed looking for the exact real estate that would match your interests.
The second method is going directly to property selling websites you trust. The advantage of this method is that it gives you results faster and in a more efficient manner, as you directly address property lists you know will be useful. The disadvantage, however, is that you must first know these websites, and if you are knew to the market, this is unlikely. In this case it is recommended to approach a real estate guidance agency an acquire a list from them.
Choosing a specific property
When a list of properties has been acquired, one should choose a suitable item. The most obvious parameters, are, of course, your own wishes and goals, whether it is price, area or a number of rooms in an apartment. Apart from that, it would be wise to look at the plan of the house, as well as carefully look at photos provided. While not the most reliable source, they can save a lot of effort - one would not spend his/her time visiting a house that looks damaged on the photos.
Visiting a property
Visiting a property for inspection is a vital step, as not all the important parameters can be checked online. Experts in Latvian real estate market recommend the following procedure.
- Check water pressure
- In older houses, water pressure may be reduced because of worn pipes. If this is the case, day-to-day life in such a building may soon become impossible, which is why it is recommended to ask, if the residents (if ti is an apartment) have discussed the question of changing the pipes.
- Check heat supply
- If heat is not distributed equally (i.e. different non-adjustable radiators have different temperatures), it may indicate various heating system problems and make the premises unsuitable for any activity in colder periods.
- Check the walls
- While cosmetic defects can be a nuisance, it is far more important to check the walls for moisture or mould, as it can create potential health hazards or indicate problems with water and/or heat supply.
- Inquire about repairs
- If you detect any fresh repairs, even minor ones, it is advisable to inquire about why they had been made, as well as what materials had been used. Sometimes minor repair are done due to real necessity, but sometimes owners try to conceal structural damage this way.
- Check common areas
- If areas of common use, such as staircases and basements are not in a good condition, this may be a sign of poor management. Accordingly, if any serious problem with this parts of an apartment complex arises in the future, it is possible that they will not be solved in a timely manner.
Searching via an agency
Searching for real estate via a property guidance agency is suitable for private and corporate individuals, and for companies it is an especially useful way, because it allows saving a lot of time, guaranteeing the best and most effective result. Searching via an agency reduces the whole process (for the customer) to only two operations: stating one’s wishes and finalizing the purchase by signing a contract. Everything in between is handled by the agency, and usually includes the following:
- property search
- property assessment
- legal (due diligence)
- price negotiations
- hazard assessment (long-term assessment)
- property assessment for potential investments
- mortgage consultations
- other services
Another major advantage is the fact, that you are free to participate in the searching process if wish to do so. You can also choose to partake only in parts you are interested in, and leave the rest to your agent. So, in general - hiring a property broker allows for maximum flexibility and controlled levels of engagement.
Choosing an agency
Choosing a real estate agency or broker is, basically, the only major step you need to take. The agency will take care of the rest, and you as a buyer will only be needed for concluding the agreement and adjusting your aims if you wish. Agents of the Latvian Real Estate Association (LANĪDA; in Latvian: Latvijas Nekustamo īpašumu darījumu asociācija) give the following advice:
- Check its profile
- Evaluate the quality of property advertisements this broker puts online. It shows the basic level of professionality and ability to market one’s real estate. If the quality is poor, it is a warning sign that the broker does not take the job seriously.
- Check its location
- Real estate brokers are often better acquainted with property in their vicinity, and it is advantageous for you to choose such an agency, because it will spend a lot less time providing you with the initial selection of premises.
In general, try to understand, if this specific broker is trustworthy, by observing his/her style of communication, general expertise and experience. There is no single clear cut way to distinguish a bad agent from a good one, but if you feel a sense of general professionality, it is usually a good sign. If you can, enquire about the broker’s deal in the past - if you see, that deals were settled in a manner satisfactory for both parties, it is a good indicator. Also try to search for an agency that offers legal consultations - as it was mentioned earlier, due diligence and legal verification are all very important aspects of buying a piece of real estate.
Finally, once again check what the agency offers. A good, high quality agent offers the majority of the following services:
- property price and market consultations
- tax consultations
- property legal assessment
- property presentations
- document acquisition and preparation
- risk management consultations
- long-term legal support for real estate acquisition