Irina Alazova, the CEO of Mercury Group Limited, a Latvian real estate company, said that starting in 2015, it became “almost impossible to get mortgages,” after the government tightened lending restrictions. Around the same time, the country’s residential permit program, which allowed foreign buyers to apply for permanent residence, increased its minimum required purchase, causing the number of participants to drop.
When the pandemic hit, apartment sales in Riga fell further. But, as in most other European countries, they picked up toward the end of 2020 and have remained on an upward trajectory in 2021.
“Real estate is very active in Latvia at the moment,” Ms. Alazova said. “Prices started to increase, but very comfortable, slowly. It is time to buy if the one takes real estate as investment.”
Riga’s market is now “characterized by growth in all segments,” Ms. Fridenberga said. In the first seven months of the year, 5,383 apartments sold in Riga, up from 4,653 during the same period last year, she said, citing government figures and the company’s research. The housing stock in Riga is mostly apartments, she said, with an average price of 1,285 euros a square meter ($140 a square foot) in July, up 2 percent over last year.
According to an Ober Haus report, the price for new apartments in Riga’s center and Old Town at the end of 2020 ranged from $197 to $438 a square foot, going up to $548 to $767 a square foot for luxury units. New apartments in other areas of the city were going for $170 to $230 a square foot, while Soviet-era apartments remained much more affordable, Ms. Fridenberga said, adding that buyers typically prefer new construction.