According to Tõnu Toompark on his adaur blog, although the kv.ee index* of property prices in Estonia has seen only scant changes over the past year (a 0.98 per cent y-o-y fall to June 2012) this does not tell the whole story as regards the market here.
For one thing, the index has been fairly stable over the past couple of years (the index is based on asking prices rather than transaction prices**) which means that vendors have not had unrealistic expectations. On the other hand, transaction prices (which are naturally lower than asking prices) have at least in some areas been creeping up towards the levels of asking prices, which has led to a quite active property market over the last few quarters, writes Tõnu.
One area where the statistics bear this out is in the number of houses which have appeared on the market recently – 409 in the year to June 2012. Now, 409 may not sound like a lot of items, but it is worth taking a look at the number of houses on the market at any one time. At the time of writing (13.00 on 25th July) there were, on the kv.ee portal itself, 14 516 apartments for sale in the whole of Estonia (5 646 in Tallinn) as against 8 000 houses (621 in Tallinn). In other words the property market in Estonia, and in Tallinn in particular, is dominated by apartments. The city24.ee portal paints a similar picture, with 14 115 apartments for sale across Estonia versus 6 101 houses.
It needs to be pointed out here that the two portals’ statistics are likely to represent a figure for items on the market which is higher than the actual figure (due in part to the same property being listed by multiple agents and so counted more than once, or ‘dead’ properties which have been listed for several years); nonetheless Tõnu cites 5 654 houses being on the market in Estonia in June 2012.
This increase in supply of houses on the market has not been uniform throughout the country, although in all but two counties (Maakond) in Estonia, there have been increases, some of them substantial. For example in the county of Läänemaa there was a 58 per cent increase in numbers of houses on the market, according to Tõnu’s data.
The two exceptions were Viljandimaa which saw a -24 per cent fall in supply, and Lääne-Virumaa which saw a -6 per cent fall (there are 15 counties in Estonia).
In addition to that, no data was available for changes in supply of houses in Põlvamaa (though only 15 houses were listed as for sale in June 2012 here).
The figure for Estonia as a whole was an increase of 8 per cent in the supply of houses on the market (409 items as noted).
As regards prices of houses, changes were more variable. As might be expected from microeconomic theory, an increase in supply led to a fall in asking prices in a lot of counties (as much as -27 per cent in Järvamaa in central Estonia). However five counties actually saw an increase in asking prices, including the key counties of Tartumaa, Harjumaa (where Tallinn is located) and Pärnumaa (increases of six, two and one per cent respectively). Reasons for this are largely speculative, although it is worth noting that when taken as a whole, Estonia saw no change in asking prices.
In summary: both asking prices and transaction prices remaining pretty static in the market for houses in Estonia, but there is an increasing availability of houses to buy nonetheless.
The original article by Tõnu Toompark (in Estonian) is here.
*The KV.ee index, which commenced on 18th February, 2008 (i.e. this is the date on which the value of the index is calibrated at 100) measures the week on week change in residential real estate prices in Estonia. The data has been measured back anachronistically to 1 January, 2005, when the index stood at an “all time” low of 49.9. The “all time” high came on 7th May, 2007, when it stood at 108. Following the economic downturn of 2008 onwards, the index reached a low point (to date) of 61.4 on two occasions, on 5th September and 27th October, 2010.
**Please see our recent article on the translation of the Estonian words ‘pakkumine’ and ‘pakkumushind’.