Dos And Don’ts When Letting Out Rental Property In Tallinn And Estonia: Part Two-The Don’ts

Following on from our article yesterday in which we outlined what you should do when letting out property in Estonia, here as promised is part two, in which we detail the ‘don’ts’…

1) Don’t wait to secure the highest rental rate possible. Profits can be washed out by the additional vacancy time; in addition, market conditions can change rapidly. By the same token, don’t keep rental rates high and accept a high vacancy rate while waiting for market conditions to improve. High levels of vacancy can lead to high tenant improvement costs and free rent as additional concessions due to the market being a tenant’s market. At the time of writing, the rental market is quite buoyant and so obtaining the market rate for your property without a long wait should be viable.

2) Don’t rule out proposedtenant improvements-losing a potential tenant by refusing to make improvements could lead to additional vacancy time.

3) Don’t make the mistake of cutting out promotional work on your apartment as well as search feesas the market tightens again. If you are not competitive in these areas, you risk fewer tours, which will mean less qualified tenants, which could lead to longer vacancy times.

4) Don’t halt refurbishment and improvement plans in a hot market. These plans can take months to develop and come to fruition. Tenants want the level of service and quality of appearance to be maintained over the life span of their lease. This may attract them to stay for another lease term, saving you money. That being said, you should keep your tenant improvement costs as low as possible. It’s a good idea to stay on top of the repair and maintenance needs of your property by repairing or replacing any item that is not functioning as soon after being notified as possible to prevent further damages or tenant dissatisfaction.

5) Don’t impinge on your tenant’s privacy: inform them about any potential visit well in advance and certainly at least 24 hours.

6) Do not leave anything of great financial or sentimental value in a property which you are letting out.

And that’s it! We hope you have found this advice helpful, and we’re waiting to hear your comments, questions or experiences!

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.

 

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Dos And Don’ts When Letting Out Rental Property In Tallinn And Estonia: Part One – The Dos

Following hot on the heels of our recent posts on where to buy in Tallinn, Estonian real estate terminology getting lost in translation, and top tips when buying in Estonia, all of which we hope you’ve found helpful, we thought we’d continue on that trajectory.

This time, the topic is letting out properties. So here are the main ‘dos’ when letting out an apartment here or, for the most part, anywhere:

Many people become a ‘landlord’ in Estonia or elsewhere for that matter with little knowledge of the realities of what the process involves.

Even if you are an existing landlord already, you can never have too much advice, and there may be some differences between Estonia and wherever you hold your other properties.

A lack of knowledge about being a landlord can lead to such unwanted scenarios as unexpected expenses, void periods or problem tenants.

To help you avoid any of these undesirable situations, here are some of the most significant do’s and don’ts when letting out property in Estonia.

Do…

1) Make your property as appealing as possible to potential tenants (neat and clean, in order, decorated). If the property was formerly your personal home or part time home, or contains fixtures and fittings left over from a former occupant, be prepared to make the necessary internal alterations in order to successfully attract a tenant. One’s own personal tastes may not match with those of other people. Experience has shown that tenants on the whole prefer light, neutral colours and modern, contemporary (but not too extreme) fixtures and fittings. Time to get rid of that lime-green ceiling or novelty lampshade! ‘Minimal is king’, is a useful watchword here. At the same time, thoughtfully-located and attractive pictures which are in keeping with the overall design of the apartment can make all the difference, as can a few well-placed mirrors. Plants also make a huge difference, although naturally there is the issue of getting tenants to water them once an agreement has begun. The property should also be wisely furnished (e.g. take away unnecessary furniture pieces, have modern and clean furniture which is in keeping with the property etc.)

2) Steer clear of void periods at all costs, even if this means being flexible about rental levels. This also means you should be flexible in terms of rental periods, for example having a short term let for part of the year and longer terms during the remainder, to maximise profits and minimize void periods. This can have the effect of earning 10-15 per cent more per year. Naturally having a fully-managed service will mean that the hassle of organising this is out of your hands.

3) Consider letting the property out as a part-furnished property. Whilst many tenants may be travelling light or interested in short term lets and therefore more likely to choose a fully-furnished property, some scope for their own additions to the furniture can be attractive. What constitutes essential furniture in a part-furnished property? Naturally beds should be provided in the primary bedrooms at the very least; mattresses should be included only if they are relatively new (ie no more than 4-5 years old) and clean. Sofas and chairs should also be included where necessary, and substantial storage space in particular for clothes (wardrobes, walk in wardrobes, chests of drawers etc) is also a must. Kitchen fixtures and fittings should natrually be included and utensils, cutlery, crockery etc can also be provided inexpensively.

4) Provide as much detailed description of your property as possible. There are two very good real estate portals (kv.ee and city24.ee) which list properties available under quite detailed search parameters, in English and with plenty of photos. Your real estate broker will also be able to advise and guide you through the process of marketing your property.

5) Once you have a tenant, make sure that you have a proper lease agreement in place (certainly ask for a tenant’s documentation; get all the important terms of the tenancy in writing). You should also check the potential tenant’s background if possible (credit info, personal info, family, pets, smoking etc). An agent can advise you on this. It is worth having a detailed inventory compiled. This will be signed by both landlord and tenant, thus avoiding any unpleasant disputes arising surrounding any damage at the end of a tenancy. It should cover not only major items such as any furniture, but also details of the overall qualities of the walls, painted areas, flooring etc to account for any damage that might occur. You might also consider obtaining property insurance to cover for damage, and a security deposit, usually of one month, is also worth getting. It’s worth having an inventory taken (even in unfurnished properties).

6) Consider getting a property professionally cleaned at the end of a tenancy period. This can work wonders in attracting a new tenant, breathing new life into worn carpets and making grubby tiles sparkling again. First impressions last and it would be a shame to put off a potential tenant simply because of an unpleasant odour or dirty bathroom.

7) A certain amount of reasonable wear and tear should of course be expected, so expect it! Over time items will need to be replaced. As a general rule, fridges and other white goods will need to be replaced as they become outdated or cease to work over the years, and a property will need small redecoration works and maintenance works approximately every four years. Wooden parquet flooring also requires attention from time to time.

8) If you are living outside Estonia, it is well worth arranging for a managing agent who will not only find and reference tenants for you, but also draw up contracts, manage the collection of rents, bill payments, see to any maintenance or emergency repairs which may arise, advise you on any refurbishments that may need doing etc. Keep in touch: your managing agents can advise you about developments at the property, maintenance issues etc, but always respond to emails and queries on this promptly. This will lead to a better relationship with a tenant and an increased likelihood that they will want to stay on.

….and the ‘don’ts’ will follow in a later installment!

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.

 

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Tallinn Real Estate Market Report First Quarter 2012

We have just been putting the finishing touches to a fresh copy of our quarterly review of the Tallinn property market and the review.

Our latest Tallinn Property and Rental Market Quarterly Review covers all developments in the third quarter of 2011, and as always the review contains a brief look at the Tallinn residential market:

  • situation regarding mortgage loans, consumer security
  • information on average asking and transactional prices
  • current state of the central Tallinn rental market
  • invaluable sample transactions
  • advice on rental business considerations

Get the Tallinn Property Market Review 2012 Q1

We would also very much like to hear your views re the property market. Or if you have any suggestions regarding topics. Please do not hesitate to write or tweet us, or leave us a comment below or on our Tallinn Property Facebook page.

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Colliers International: Demand For Commercial Space To Increase

Here at Tallinn Property we like to focus on residential real estate, but it’s worth taking time out on occasion to examine how other areas of the real estate market are faring.

Real estate analysts Colliers international’s monthly survey, when taking 2011 as a whole, has shown that whilst at the beginning of 2011, no significant changes were expected to take place in the market, there was a surprise in store in the office space sector, where at the end of the year there were few vacancies and a rise in the rental price for new office space.

“There is a distinct lack of first-rate office space, and thus we forecast that by 2013 there will be an increase in this area  in the central business district [of Tallinn] of at least 10 000 square meters” says Colliers Investment and Evaluations manager Margus Tinno.

“The retail sector, which saw a high degree of competition between supermarket chains in 2011, will see this trend continuing into 2012. Rental rates for long term tenants should remain stable; however some smaller landlords may increase rents” Mr Tinno went on.

Activity in the real estate market saw some unexpected developments in 2011, which was mainly driven by the public sector. In 2012 the Technomedicum (incorporating the biomedical engineering, clinical medicine departments together with the cardiology centre) and Mechatronics Centre at the Tallinn Science Park is due to be finished, and about half of the space is so far subject to rental lease agreements with the state. Additionally, the Ülemiste Technopolis has started to construct some new office space, of which 11 600 square metres is to be taken up by the Estonian Tax and Customs authority. Furthermore a new headquarters for the Estonian Statistics office, of around 4 4000 square metres, has been planned for the end of 2013, all of which makes the public sector the most important driving force in the marketplace for office space.

2011 saw a growth in exports which in turn led to increased demand for industrial and warehouse space. A significant number of industrial enterprises and foreign capital-based companies, which work primarily in the electronics and distribution fields, have begun to consider expanding and thus need to find additional or entirely new space. However, due to rising construction costs, commercial rental prices have increased significantly (by 50 per cent or more when compared with 2009). Colliers predicts that the industrial warehouse market will be seeing a distinct lack of larger, high quality space, and so there is a current gap in the market for speculative, good quality warehouse space with a provisional asking rental of 4-4.50 Euros per square metre per month.

Overall, the boom time of the middle 2000s saw a decline in the use of warehouse ownership. More and more warehouse users are preferring to rent warehouse space, thus keeping themselves free of the capital and real estate commitments that ownership entails. The situation is somewhat different for heavy industry, however, where more specialised production demands tend to necessitate ownership of suitable facilities.

“Whilst the debt crisis in the Eurozone has continued to adversely affect the investment market, the total volume of investment in this area in 2011 came to around 250 million Euros, which is more than three times the value for 2010” Tinno goes on.

“The largest single deal in the history of the Estonian real estate market took place in 2011 as well, when publicly-traded Finnish retail investor Citycon purchased the Kristiine shopping centre in Tallinn for 105 million Euros. We anticipate that the investment arket in 2012 will continue to be active, because most investors now have the funds available, and the market is expecting to see investment coming to sites” he concludes.

The original article (in Estonian) as published on Tõnu Toompark’s Adaur blog, can be viewed here.

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Individuals In The Rental Market Need Tax Exempt Status

At a recent round table meeting of the EKFL (Eesti Kinnisvarafirmade Liidu), an association of Estonian real estate agents, construction companies, developers and other related interests, on 26 October, the question of issues related to tax relief for rental income was raised. The meeting found that, in order to increase transparency and competition in the rental market, measures concerning such tax relief would be necessary.

“Today’s rental market happens to be rather opaque, with activities largely being directed by business considerations from private individual to private individual” said EKFL board member and regular contributor to Tallinn Property Tõnu Toompark.

“This opacity means that rental agreements tend to be either weak or entirely missing” Tõnu goes on, “with uncertainty for both tenant and landlord, and, to be frank, unfair maneuvering regarding taxes”.

As far as taxation goes, there is a grey area in the rental sector which leads to a significant competitive advantage to those landlords who are not paying taxes. The EKFL proposes eliminating this advantage and giving rental housing tax-exempt status, for example for a 10 year period.

“Income tax exemption will reverse the advantage given to the unfair competitive advantage that exists” Tõnu continues. “It will encourage those landlords who want to enter into sound and correct lease agreements and the honest moving of money through bank accounts” Tõnu explains.

Tax incentives can lead to rental offers on new apartments, thus expanding the sector. Currently around 15 per cent of people in Estonia rent their living space; this number can potentially grow towards a level in line with the Western European countries of around 25-35 per cent.

A wider share of the rental market will give all people a better choice of accomodation and facilitate greater mobility of labour. A bigger rental market will also help to keep prices stable and lead to various mini-booms in the rental market.

This proposal for an income tax free rental market is motivated by the situation this autumn, where the supply of rental accomodation is standing at a level of around 30-40 per cent less than this time year ago. This low rate of offers has led to a price ceiling and a certain amount of difficulty in finding accomodation. The EKFL believes that the Estonian economy and real estate market, which the rental market is an integral part of, will be greatly improved when a reasonable level of stability can be forecast.

The EKFL is a network of real estate mediation, development, management and consultants. The EKFL round table is a group of active members who meet on a monthly basis as an effective think tank.

The original press release (in Estonian) can be viewed here.

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Colliers: 2011 Best Year For Estonian Commercial Real Estate

Compared with the first quarter of 2010, the number of commerical real estate deals in Estonia has fallen by 18 per cent. However, their size and value has actually increased.

The monthly average transaction value has risen by 48 per cent, from 39 300 Euros to 58 100 Euros, according to a survey carried out by global real estate services corporation Colliers in March, as reported on Estonian business news site E24 Majandus. The company furthermore predicts that commercial real estate investments this year will make it the all-time most successful year in the history of the sector.

Company analysts confirm that the availability of modern office space continues to fall, and that offers of spacious office space to rent in the marketplace may dry up.

“Our own cooperation partners have demonstrated that plans for new office space construction are day by day becoming more realistic. A good example is the planned new G4S business development which Arco Vara Real Estate acquired at the end of 2010”, comments Colliers’ investment and evaluation manager Margus Tinno.

“Various developers are expressing a clear interest in properties with strategic locations in the central business district”, he adds.

The Colliers survey has shown that demand for rented office space is continuing to be carried by the IT and Telecoms sectors, which uses on the whole the greatest area of rental space.

Foreign investor confidence has recovered in Estonian real estate, as is demonstrated by Colliers’ estimates of the volume of planned and completed transactions in relation to shopping centres. This increased activity is exemplified by an agreement of 105 million Euros (still to be settled) for the Kristiine Shopping centre.

“Finnish captial-based Prisma Family Market has already been renovating and extending a number of its Tallinn hypermarkets for some time and commencement of the construction of a second hypermarket in Tartu has already been announced. At the same time a new Lithuanian-owned Maxima hypermarket is being planned in Pärnu. In a rejuvenating economy, conditions in the market clearly tighten up between the competing retail chains” Says Tinno.

Growing demand for warehouse and industrial space will be quickly offset by a rapid rise in construction prices. Estimates by Colliers analysts imply that new developments are breaking even at 4-4.5 Euros per square metre – this exceeds the level for 2009 by as much as 50 per cent and is still too expensive for many potential tenants today, despite the recovery of many businesses. Evidently those businesses which are enjoying a rapid expansion are expected to start to approach developers’ price expectations.

“The statistics for the first quarter of 2011 are very revealing – together with the transaction concerning the Kristiine Centre , the volume of real estate transactions has already exceeded figures for 2010 by 150 per cent. It is thought that some major commercial real estate portfolio talks are in progress, for example the East Capital and Capfeld deals, which can at the least mean that the commercial property  forecast for Estonia is for the most successful year in this sector”,  Tinno further states.

The original article (in Estonian) can be viewed here.

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Tallinn Real Estate Market Report First Quarter 2011

Tallinn Property and Goodson & Red are pleased to announce that our latest Tallinn Property and Rental Market Quarterly Review is ready.

Covering all developments in the first quarter of 2011, as always the review contains an in-depth look at the Tallinn residential market, the situation regarding mortgage loans, information on average asking and transactional prices, the current state of the central Tallinn rental market, and also offers invaluable sample transactions and advice on rental business considerations.

In case the link above did not work you can copy and paste the following to your address bar: http://www.goodsonandred.com/sharedfolder/tallinn-property-market/marketreview-tallinn-real-estate-q1-2011-web180411.pdf  

The review comes at an exciting time for us as the company expands to include four highly experienced team members. You can meet our new property consultants and agents at Goodson & Red Property Consultancy site. Whatever your requirements for Tallinn property, Andrew, Kati, Tuuli and Erki are there to help you achieve your aims.

We would very much like to hear your views regarding the Tallinn or Estonian property market. Furthermore, if you have any suggestions regarding topics, please do not hesitate to leave your comment or tweet us, or write on our wall.

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Tallinn Real Estate Market Report December 2010

To wrap-up 2010 and look ahead to 2011, please don’t hesitate to check our latest Tallinn Property and Rental Market Quarterly Review.

As always our review contains an in-depth look at the Tallinn residential market, the situation regarding mortgage loans, information on average asking and transactional prices, the current state of the central Tallinn rental market, and also offers invaluable sample transactions and advice on rental business considerations.

You can find the full report at: http://www.goodsonandred.com/sharedfolder/tallinn-property-market/marketreview-tallinn-real-estate-q4-2010_web151210.pdf

We would very much like to hear your views regarding the Tallinn or Estonian property market. Furthermore, if you have any suggestions regarding topics, please do not hesitate to leave your comment or tweet us, or write on our wall.

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Tallinn Property Market Report Q3 2010

Just finished polishing our fresh report of housing and rental market in Tallinn.

Using partially the words from the preface of our review – participants in the economy have largely been communicating positive messages and making promising forecasts through the whole summer period. This obviously applies also to property markets. It seems likely that the market decline has indeed bottomed out. However, there are no reasons yet to feel too inspired, as there are still a host of macroeconomic factors which are deeply troubling. There is an overall degree of uncertainty in the market. Firstly, IMHO, it’s not wise to recover from a hang-over by taking another drink.

Real estate can be taken as a bunker instrument though :)

So, we believe that mortgage market might become slightly more active and interest rates stay at their current level; however, consumer security is subtle and we’ll probably see a decrease in the indicators. Therefore no increase in number of property transactions or prices, but uncertainty and risks may support the activity of the rental sector. The rental market has been quite active during in previous years as property purchases and sales were restricted due to a lack of financing. This may be one of the factors which will help to increase the rental sector in Estonia.

You can find the full report at http://www.goodsonandred.com/sharedfolder/tallinn-property-market/marketreview_tallinn-property-q3-2010_web240910.pdf

What do you think? Would very much like to read your thoughts and experiences. Or if you have any questions you’d like us to address, email, tweet us or leave us a comment below or on our Tallinn Property Page.

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