Statistics: Housing expenses have increased 8% within a year

According to Statistics Estonia the consumer price index of October is 1,5% higher than that one year ago. At the same time housing expenses have increased as much as 8% in one year.

By today, in comparison with the year 1997, the consumer expenses have almost doubled and the housing expenses have increased 3,2 times. This means that the increase in housing expenses exceeds the overall increase in consumer prices during that time 66%.

According to Statistics Estonia, as of September the construction price index which influences the real estate market mainly from the supply side, is 4,9% higher than that one year ago.

The increase in construction price index is mainly due to labour expenses becoming more expensive. Unfortunately this does not mean increase in salaries in that sector but the positive process of black-market labour legalization.

Consumer price index, construction price index, producer price index of industrial output YoY

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Economic Growth In Estonia Continues, But Slows In Q2 2012

According to a recent report on the Statistics Estonia site, economic growth in Estonia grew by two per cent y-o-y to Q2 2012.

However, GDP only grew by 0.4 per cent, when seasonal and work-day factors are taken into account, between Q1 and Q2.

Most of the growth came from the construction, information and communication and administrative and support service areas, whereas manufacturing, the biggest single sector, had a negligble effect on growth, according to the report.

The report stated that reductions in value added in the real estate sector, going back to Q3 of 2010, had an impact on this slowing. Normalisation after the adoption of the Euro (which saw a rise in real estate prices due to ’rounding up’ around the time of the currency’s adoption in January 2011) and the rise in construction material prices may have been two causes of this.

This is not the final word on the matter from Statistics Estonia however; figures for Q1 and Q2 2012 growth will be re-estimated and published on the site on 7th September, the report stated.

The original report is available here.

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Real Estate Prices In Estonia See Fall In July 2012

According to a recent article in the Estonian Press Digest from News2Biz, July 2012 saw something of a fall in real estate prices in Estonia as a whole, but at the same time real purchasing power (in Tallinn) for those wishing to purchase property also fell.

Citing real estate giant Pindi Kinnisvara‘s index as falling by 5.4 per cent between June and July, the report also stated that the real purchasing power of a Tallinn resident earning an average wage would stretch to a property of 68 square metres in area.

The Pindi Index is based on the weighted average transactions across the 17 largest Estonian towns (Tallinn is of course the largest with over 400 000 inhabitants, whereas 17th placed town is Kiviõli in Ida-Virumaa with only a little over six and a half thousand souls).

The average price of apartments per square metre in June 2012 for the whole of Estonia was 886 Euros, falling to 838 Euros per square metre in July, according to the report.

Not surprisingly the lower prices were accompanied by a somewhat higher rate of transactions – 991 in July, compared with 934 the previous month (this only covers the 17 cities incorporated in the Pindi index) the report stated.

According to the article, residents of Tartu and Pärnu can stretch to apartments a little larger in size when measured by their purchasing power levels (at 73 and 84 square metres respectively).

The Pindi Index reached an all time peak in April 2007 at the height of the boom, and an all time low in July 2009 (624.2 Euros per square metre).

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Estonia’s National Air Carrier Sees An Increase In Passenger Numbers to July 2012

Notwithstanding national air carrier Estonian Air’s muhc-publicised financial problems, according to a recent report on the Baltic Busines News site, the airline has carried 52 per cent more passengers as of the end of July 2012 than at the same stage during the preceding year.

At the same time, the number of passengers taking regular flights from Tallinn increased 78.6 per cent y-o-y, according to the report.

92 136 passengers flew from Tallinn on regular flights, 91 983 of whom were on regular flights, the report continued, with 515 721 passengers travelling with Estonian Air through the first seven months.

The occupancy rate of flights not surprisingly increased y-o-y to July 2012 too, by 9.2 per cent y-o-y to 98.9 per cent occupancy, the report stated, whilst

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Statistics: Real Estate Investment In Estonia Increases 24 Per Cent Y-o-Y

According to a report by Tõnu Toompark on his adaur blog, investment in real estate in Estonia has increased by 24 per cent y-o-y to the first quarter of 2012.

Citing figures from the Estonian Statistics office, investments from  Estonian companies into plant and equipment fixed assets came to a value of 506 million Euros in the first quarter of 2012, writes Tõnu.

A bit less than a third of this total came in the real estate sector, including buildings and facilities acquisition, construction, repair work and the acquisition of land, Tõnu continues.

After a three year fall in investment in the real estate sector, the last five consecutive quarters have seen growth in investment, Tõnu writes.

The original article (in Estonian) together with diagrams illustrating investment levels in fixed assets including buildings, facilities, and land, and changes thereof, is here.

 

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Retail Sales In Estonia Continuing To Grow

More hopeful signs of economic recovery in Estonia comes with a recent report on the Statistics Estonia site which states that retail sales in Estonia increased by seven per cent y-o-y to June 2012.

Furthermore this trend has been continuing since March 2012; every month between March and June saw an increase in retail sales of between six and eight per cent, according to the report.

The total retail sales of goods of retail trade enterprises, to give the retail sector its full name, came to a value of 384.8 million Euros in June 2012, which represented about 80 per cent of the total revenues from sales of retail trade enterprises (484.9 million euros)* the report stated.

There was an apparent growth in all areas, but the sector with the biggest increase was pharmaceuticals and cosmetics (17 per cent) together with ‘non-specialized stores selling predominantly industrial goods’ (16 per cent) and ‘retail sales via mail order or the internet’ (15 per cent).

Retail sales in grocery stores grew six per cent y-o-y which was actually a lower figure than had been the case over the previous two months, but this was largely due to that sector starting from a higher reference base in June 2011 than some other sectors, the report stated.

The overall retail sales in retail trade enterprises month-on-month increase in June 2012 was three per cent at constant prices, and one per cent by seasonally and working-day adjusted data. 

Over the six month period January-June 2012 the report said that retail sales in retail trade enterprises increased by nine per cent at constant prices compared y-o-y.

The original report is available here.

Goodson & Red Tallinn Property Consultancy is a premier real estate service in Estonia, specialising in residential and commercial Tallinn real estate, with a strong focus on consultancy services for overseas property investors in Estonia. Our recent media accolades include mentions in both the UK quality newspaper the Daily Telegraph, and the New York Times.

*Revenues from sales increased by fourteen per cent at current prices y-o-y to June 2012, and by two per cent month-on-month, the report stated.

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Estonia’s Credit Rating Affirmed At A1 By Moody’s

Bond credit raters Moody’s Investor Services have affirmed Estonia’s A1 government bond rating and stable outlook.

As reported on this blog, Fitch had already upped Estonia’s rating to A+, so this is more good news.

The rating was based on factors including the Estonian government’s budgetary rigour and financial strength during the continuing crises of the 2008-10 downturn and the Eurozone (Estonia joined the Euro in January 2011) the low level of public debt, healthy banks and Estonia’s ability to withstand external shocks.

The rating could change over time of course, with both up- and downgrades possible. If Estonia had a long-term track record of steady growth (GDP has of course been growing since the downturn) and a strengthening and diversification of its economic base (recovery has largely been export driven) an upgrade might be on the cards, according to Moody’s.

Conversely, if an intensification of the Eurozone crisis had a negative impact on the public debt situation, or if foreign bank owners (the bulk of the successful banks in Estonia are Scandinavian owned) wavered on their commitments, which could have a similar effect, a downgrade could result.

In Any event, A1 it is! More information from Moody’s is here.

 

The principal methodology used in this rating was Sovereign Bond Ratings published in September 2008. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

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Estonia Vs Slovenia

An item first published on this blog on 6th July, 2012.

An interesting and detailed post here, from the redoubtable Edward Hugh, about one of the two other CEE countries, apart from Estonia, that have acceded to the Eurozone, namely Slovenia (the third country is Slovakia).

Having consistently outperformed Estonia and even ‘older’ Eurozone countries like Portugal, it seems not all is well with Slovenia.

Like Estonia, a small country (with a population of around 2 million) which was formerly a part of Yugoslavia and in fact the first constituent state to gain independence in 1991, Slovenia now seems to be drifting towards joining Spain, Greece, Ireland et al in an IMF or similar bailout, according to the article.

Moreover, in some areas where Estonia has seen an improvement over the last year or so, for example in GDP levels and construction volumes, Slovenia has seen a decline. Unemployment, whilst at a somewhat lower rate than Estonia’s (over eight per cent in Slovenia as compared with a little over 11 per cent in Estonia) has been consistently growing in Slovenia since 2008, whereas the trend in Estonia has been for a fall since mid-2010 (though with small recent increases).

Furthermore, Estonia has leapfrogged Slovenia in the credit ratings stakes, at least as Fitch sees it. As reported on this blog, Estonia currently holds a Fitch rating of A+ whereas Slovenia is now rated at A.

Goodson & Red Tallinn Property Consultancy is a premier residential and commercial property service based in Tallinn, Estonia, with a strong focus on consultancy services for overseas property investors. Our recent media accolades include mentions in both the UK quality newspaper the Daily Telegraph, and the New York Times.

 

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Statistics: 96 Per Cent Of Residential Dwelling Space In Estonia Is In Private Sector

According to Tõnu Toompark on his adaur blog, 96 per cent of residential dwelling space in Estonia is in private hands.

The total number of residential items comes to 657 800 units, only a small increase on the last 12 years, with only three per cent of dwellings owned by local governments and one per cent by the state, writes Tõnu.

Given the upheaval of the collapse of the USSR 20 years ago and the wholesale transferral of ownership from state to private sector this is perhaps unsurprising, and is no doubt a factor in the somewhat active real estate market here, compared with some neighbouring countries (e.g. the Scandinavian nations) where public sector housing will account for a much higher proportion.

The original article (in Estonian) is available here.

 

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Many In Estonia Still Unaware Of Imminent Electricity Market Liberalisation

An article first published on this blog on 11th July, 2012.

As we previously blogged about, the electricity market in Estonia, hitherto having been a state monopoly, is due to be open to the market come January 2013, with all the pros and cons that this entails (our previous article lists some of these if you’re interested, or perhaps you already have a view one way or another!).

Nonetheless it seems many Estonians themselves don’t have a strong view on developments, or even worse than that, they’re not even aware it’s happening in the first place!

According to a report by Kristopher Rikken on the esteemed Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) site, over 20 per cent of people here are unaware of the prospective privatisation and many more believe there should be more info out there on this subject.

Speaking as a blogger who remembers the fanfare which surrounded the various privatisations of State energy (and other) enterprises under the Thatcher years in the UK, I find this surprising and a real missed opportunity on the part of those companies waiting in the wings to supply electricity to the Estonian people come next January (if in fact they are able to do anything at this stage).

Nevertheless this is the case. Mr Rikken derives his info from a TNS ENOR Poll (we were unable to track down the original poll but here is their Estonian site – TNS is global insight, information and consultancy group) which states that the exact figure of those who are completely unaware of the electricity market liberalisation is 21 per cent, according to the report.

The level of awareness amongst ‘lower income 25 to 34 year olds in small towns’ has risen according to the report, although only 17 per cent of all respondents correctly identified that the changes will affect the price component of their bills (probably adversely in that price increases are likely, although at least consumers are likely to be able to shop around for a better deal from competitors).

Another strange irony is that lack of awareness was particularly high in Ida-Virumaa, the very region of North Eastern Estonia where the bulk of the country’s electricity is generated (in oil-shale burning plants). Moreover ‘non-Estonians’ scored poorly in the awareness stakes, according to the report; this in practice is likely to mean Russian-speaking persons who again predominate in Ida-Virumaa, making up over 70 per cent of the population (and over 90 per cent in some individual towns). Evidently information has either not been provided adequately, or at least disseminated, in Russian.

Furthermore, Eesti Energia as already noted has been particularly helpful in providing information, in Estonian, Russian and English, on what privatisation will mean, presumably anxious to steal a march on its competitors before they enter the market (its Latvian equivalent, Latvenergo, is also poised to enter the market according to the ERR report).

There is still of course plenty of time, it is mid-July and the changeover doesn’t take place until January 2013. However it might be worthwhile for landlords and investors to make a note of the date now and put in place plans for possible savings on energy utilities if they are liable for them.

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