Buying Real Estate
- 1 How to find a property in Armenia
- 2 Purchase Considerations
- 3 Negotiations
How to find a property in Armenia
If you're in a rush, this is the way to go. Visit a couple of brokers, tell them in GREAT detail what you are looking for, and what you are willing to pay, and be very strict about only looking at places which are just what you want to see. If they ignore your specifications, don't humor them. Many are good, helpful, and willing to show you around. Try ESCo on Sayat Nova, or call Samvel, or just try out a few. Brokers usually charge 3%, unless you negotiate something better (possible on larger purchases).
Whether you use a broker or not to find the place, it might be a good idea to find a reputable broker to do the actual paperwork and make sure everything is in order. Expect to pay about $250 for this.
There are a few classified newspapers in Yerevan which are helpful if you read Armenian or sometimes Russian. Gind (in Armenian) has pages and pages of listings by apartment size, but unfortunately not by which part of the city. Gind comes out every Friday and has both the regular and "Express" listings, so you have to look in two places for the same thing. Pay more attention to square meters than to number of rooms. Also, note that in Armenia a "2 room" means a one bedroom, not two (just as a "3 room" means two bedroom). The living room is counted as a generic room.
Word of mouth
Asking around is not a bad idea. A number of people mention to friends/neighbors that they'd be interested in selling, without ever telling a broker, or putting up a for sale sign (almost non-existant). So ask.
Knocking on doors
Because oftentimes homes are not listed with brokers, and Armenia still does not have a functioning Multiple Listing Service (MLS), going to an area you are particularly interested in and asking around is not a bad idea. Sending a local to ask for you, is an even better idea! Some people who wouldn't otherwise sell their homes, might be convinced to change their minds if there is an interested party.
The real estate portal http://www.re-estate.com includes large database of properties and realtors operating in Armenia Armenian real estate agency websites are getting better and better, but the one standout, with massive listings and good search is: http://www.realakcern.am - their search page can be accessed directly at: http://www.realakcern.am/eng/search/form.html
In the very center of the city lies the Northern Blvd, which is under construction. Real estate is going for approx. $1000/square meter without finishing work on and right off the blvd. Then, block by block the prices go down to the outer edges of the central ring road (Saryan/Isahakyan/Khanjyan/Khorenatsi), where things sell for closer to $600-700/m. From this point you can go up to Monument, Komitas or other areas which are quick and easy to access the center from, or you can go way out to places Davitashen or Erebuni where prices are quite low.
November, 2004 Real Estate Prices for 1m2 (equal to 10ft2)
(according to State Committee of Real Estate Register - actual prices are probably higher)
- Center $500 (includes far center)
- $400 in the Arabkir district
- $200-250 in Kanaker-Zeytun, Nor-Nork, Avan, Erebuni, Shengavit, Davidashen, Achapnyak, Malatia-Sebastia
- $93.8 in Nubarashen.
There are some houses in the very center, primarily off of lower Baghramyan Street, or in the Aigestan area. Just a bit further from the center are Aigedzor and Blur. Otherwise you are looking at an apartment. Outside of the center there are many areas with homes, and again obviously, the further the cheaper.
One of the difficulties in buying a house and the land on which it stands (known as the "freehold estate" in the West) is the bureaucracy involved in obtaining the necessary planning consents to turn what may effectively be a shack into a Western-style house, or build from scratch. Most people build without legal permission, and possibly pay bribes to officials who come to check for permissions, then eventually pay a bribe to have the finished construction/expansion legalized.
Stone or Panel
Stone, stone, stone. The panel buildings are a disaster in an earthquake, as the 1988 disaster proved, and prices reflect. Soviet panel buildings sell for a steep discount, which is not worth it. Stone buildings, with 1 meter thick walls, up to 6 stories high is what you should stick to. Newer high rises are popping up all over town, and are an unknown.
Cement or Wood ceilings
Most locals tend to avoid wood ("baghdad") ceilings if at all possible. This means the floors of the building are only made of wooden skeletons and planks. This can mean it is easier to get flooded from above, hear noises and walking, or get rats from the neighbors, but it shouldn't be a complete deterrent. Most people don't usually have those problems, and there is a possibility you can pour cement floors/ceilings as well. But given the choice, go with the cement (petonits dzadzk).
Which floor to buy on
Most stone buildings in Yerevan do not have elevators, so if this is an issue, you should stick to lower floors, or new buildings. The higher the floor, the lower the price. Lower floors are often used as offices, which drives their value up even further. The top floor, if it has not been added on after the completion of the building, often has the right to build another floor on top. Kind of a scary concept, but quite accepted in this part of the world. A rooftop garden, patio or greenhouse would also be possible.
Square Meters vs. Square Feet
A great and easy rule of thumb: Multiply the number of square meters by ten to get the square feet. In other words, 70 square meters is about 700 square feet.
Yerevan or Not
Nothing in Armenia comes close to the scale of Yerevan, which is home to 1 out of 3 residents of Armenia. If you are interested in the cultural, social, shopping, medical conveniences of Yerevan, your choice is clear. If you just want to be nearby, but not in Yerevan, places like Garni, Ejmiatsin and Ashtarak can provide good alternatives, with quick transport back and forth. If you are not concerned about the proximity, or are more concerned with things like climate, you should explore the country. Vayots Dzor has great landscapes and monuments, is similiar to Yerevan in climate and is quite cheap. Yeghegnadzor, Areni or Yeghegis might be nice. Lori and Tavush, with some lush green forests and canyons, lots of monuments, and some milder climate areas - especially nearer to Georgia and Azerbaijan are ideal, with towns like Dilijan, Ijevan, Tumanyan, Alaverdi and Berd. Syunik Marz has a lot to offer as well in the towns of Goris, Kapan and Meghri, and then there is always Karabakh.
When buying an apartment which you are considering gutting and renovating, you should always be conscious of where the sewage (canalizatsia) points are. Because you must put your toilet very close to one of these points, you should ask where all the exit points are for the sewer lines.
The much coveted Ararat view costs a little extra. It is not rare, but it is often hard to find just the right apartment - with the Ararat view. Good luck!
Have a trusted local friend who is a good negotiator with you. Know what you want, and what you're willing to pay. Some people will try to jack up the price for a foreigner, so beware and get a feel for the market prices before jumping in.