Foreign buyers are coming from more places than ever. Brexit does not seem to have deterred buyers from the UK; if anything, we have seen an increase in British buyers looking to get a foothold within continental Europe before the UK exits the European Union. We are seeing plenty of interest from other EU countries also, as well as the US, Australia and the Middle East. Russian buyers still make up a significant part of our clientele, but whereas five years ago such investors were looking primarily at the luxury end of the market, now the majority of enquiries from Russian buyers are about mid-range properties.
Investors from the Middle East come mainly from Dubai, UAE and Israel. For them, Slovenia represents a green “escape” in the heart of Europe. Perceived safety is something that is frequently mentioned by those looking to buy here while the low crime level, favourable geographic position and wealth of both summer and winter activities are also important factors. Buyers like that Slovenia appears relatively unaffected by major incidents, yet its membership of international organisations such as the EU and NATO lends a sense of security and stability.
Perhaps because of the “First Lady effect”, the number of American tourists rose by 35 percent in 2017, a phenomenon that had a positive knock-on effect for Slovenia Estates because we sold more properties to US buyers in 2017 than ever before.
Buyers' wishlists have changed very little. Mountain areas continue to be the most popular, with the average budget around €300,000 for a three/four-bedroom house with character and some land. While many buyers are looking for a turnkey property that's ready to move into, there's no shortage of buyers willing to take on something in need of renovation, and with the challenges of restoring a property in a foreign country, many purchasers also take advantage of our full renovation services. The whole price scale is represented with some potential buyers with well over the average to spend on a luxury property, while at the other end there are bargain hunters seeking their own little bit of Slovenia for around €100,000.
The majority of our buyers are interested in the area around Bled and Bohinj, northern Primorska – more precisely the Soča Valley, and Ljubljana Old Town where apartments of up to 100m2 are sought after – in fact, 90 percent of the enquiries we receive about Ljubljana concern properties in the Old Town.
Prices have been slowly rising over the last two years, but most important is that we are seeing a continuous stream of enquiries because buyers firmly believe that Slovenia represents good value for money in comparison with their home countries. Most buyers we deal with are in it for the long-term; we tend not to see so much “flipping” where investors pick up a cheap property, renovate it and quickly sell it on for a profit. The majority are purchasing for their own enjoyment, and some rent out their property as a vacation home when they aren't there. Typically, by doing so, they can expect a return of around four percent, making it a decent, steady investment.
Looking forward, 2018 looks set to continue in a similar vein. This winter we have seen our busiest ever period with more sales than in the last four winters put together. Compared to the same time last year, enquiries are up by 60 percent. The signs are very encouraging though this is not to say that there won't be challenges ahead. One notable feature of last year was the increasing lack of supply; in fact, demand outstripped supply fivefold in 2017. Nevertheless, our experienced team is ready to deal with whatever 2018 brings, and our long-standing presence on the Slovenian market combined with an excellent knowledge of the the real estate scene puts us in a strong position for the future.
For more information please visit sloveniaestates.com.