What’s the rough breakdown of the nationalities of your customers?
Buyers are now coming from a wider range of countries. the main markets used to be UK buyers, followed by other EU citizens. Now our buyers come from the UK, EU, US, Russia, Middle East, Australia and Israel. Our UK buyers seem not put off by Brexit and any of the implications from that. In fact, we have some buyers who are trying to escape Brexit, and owning some real estate in Europe seems to make them feel safer.
Our Russian buyers are now middle class, not the higher end ones that were here in large numbers between 2012-2015. The dramatic increase in US tourists (up 35% in 2017) has also had a knock-on effect on the numbers of buyers here, and in 2017 we sold more properties to Americans. There’s also growth in buyers from certain countries from the Middle Mast, from Dubai, the UAE, Israel and so on.
What appeals to foreigners about buying property in Slovenia?
All buyers see Slovenia as safe and somewhat unaffected by global events, and crime is also low. Its EU, OECD and NATO status all offer confidence to potential buyers, its geographical position is favourable, and of course it offers plenty of summer and winter activities.
What kind of things are your customers looking for, and are there any national differences?
In this regard the “brief” has not changed much, the overriding request has been – and continues to be – mountain areas, a 3- or 4-bedroom house with character, some land, and up to 300k euros. Of course, there are those spending more and those wanting a bargain at 100k, but the majority are looking for something like this.
What areas are most popular for buying properties?
The most popular areas for us are Bled and Bohinj, northern Primorska, with most looking around the Soča Valley, and of course Ljubljana. For Ljubjlana 90% of our enquiries are for the Old Town, and an apartment usually up to 100m2.
What about older places, that need some work?
Most of our buyers don’t distinguish between renovated or unrenovated properties, they are happy to buy a project, although this is mainly due to the fact we offer this service. Without that I think clients would be scared away from renovation projects.
How are the prices moving, and is it a speculative market?
Prices have moved upwards over the past two years, and especially in the last year, but our clients still see Slovenia as offering good value compared to their home countries. They tend to see buying here as a long-term investment. Most are not buying to flip and make a fast profit, but want to use and enjoy the property they have bought. Some will also rent out that property to tourists at other times, and if they buy in the right areas for that they can expect an average return of around 4%, which is a decent, steady investment.
What trends do you see for the housing market in the next few years?
I see this year as bringing a further increase in demand, the winter period was our busiest ever, with more sales achieved than the last four years put together, and this gives us a good indication of what 2018 has in store. Already our enquiries are up by 50% compared to last year. The main issue will be supply, and we certainly experienced supply issues in 2017, with demand far outstripping what was available for buyers.
And if you’d like to see more of the properties being handled by Justin, then click here to visit Slovenia Estates, or make a trip in person to the office at Gornji trg 1, part of Ljubljana’s Old Town.