Money admires tranquillity of the native countryside

‘House hunting’ season begins but demand differs across Belarusian regions: being active in some and almost nonexistent in others. What can we expect from the rural property market in the near future?By Oleg Pimenov
Stable demand
Those seeking a country retreat used to choose places located close to urban links. However, the trend is now changing, with most deciding to travel at least 10km from the urban noise and dust. Moreover, those really thinking ahead look at city plans, to see where future developments are to appear. Particularly, home owners are keen to avoid places where high-rise buildings are located, inspiring many to sell their city properties and head ‘far from the madding crowd’.

Gomel residents seem to prefer prestigious districts — such as Krasny Mayak, Romanovichi, Berezki and Chenki (recently, a plot of land sold for $12,000 at auction). There’s steady demand for houses priced at around $150,000, as the Director of a Gomel Real Estate Agency, Oleg Volshtein, tells us. He explains, “An interesting project is being realised: 70-80 terraced town-houses are to be built near Krasny Mayak — each with independent entry. These ‘ready-made’ homes are to be priced at no more than $100,000 for those buying ‘off plan’.”

Inexpensive houses — situated 30km or more from the ring road — are also on sale, with prices ranging from $20-30 thousand. “These are enjoying demand,” Mr. Volshtein assures us. “However, some elite cottages — worth $300,000-500,000 — are a challenge to sell. On the whole, we aren’t seeing any indication of prices falling.” He believes that houses within the city will become less popular than those in the countryside in the future, as people seek to escape high rise neighbours and noisy roads.

Close to forests and lakes
Brest is seeing increased interest, although snow is still on the ground. “Russian buyers are influencing prices, making them rise. More foreigners are arriving this year than last,” admits Brest Real Estate Agency Director Lyudmila Mironyuk. “They view it as prestigious to live in Volki, Litviny, Guli or the Shcherbino area, where houses are selling like hotcakes for $350,000. A land lot in these districts costs around $70-80 thousand. Russians tend to choose cosy cottages close to the forest, with a lake or river nearby, for use as summer homes.”

Only two sold
You might imagine the Grodno Region being similarly popular but few Russians are showing interest: deals are rare and prices lower. According to Grodno real estate agent Victor Karpovich, sellers aren’t keen on dropping their price and there are few new homes coming onto the market. He adds, “This year, we’ve sold just two houses — for $120,000 and $150,000: both situated not far from the city. Village houses are also for sale, with prices ranging from $14-35 thousand.” 

A house near Mogilev costs as little as $3,000-10,000 and bargains are also to be had in the Vitebsk Region, although agent Vasily Kabyshko believes the season will pick up.

Proposals made
Rising prices for land lots near Minsk (up by 20-30 percent) may buoy housing prices around the capital but the Director of Minsk’s Country House Real Estate Agency, Vladimir Chernushevich, notes that available lots will soon be all gone, being limited in number. Meanwhile, those received by families in need are, effectively, ‘off the market’.

Yelena Akulich, from Tvoya Stolitsa, asserts that, for many years, more rural homes and land lots have been coming onto the market, bringing a fall in prices. “We’ve noticed that prices tend to have fallen by 30-40 percent by the time a deal has been concluded. People are demanding comfortable, well-planned accommodation, so homes built in the 1990s (when few good design projects were available) are difficult to sell,” she says.

Property prices should stay relatively stable this year, with peak interest shown in July and August. The ‘house hunting’ season is just kicking off, with many deals yet to be struck.
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