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Rules:
How to purchase real estate abroad

Russia - for foreign citizens

Russian legislation does not include any restrictions on purchasing residential and commercial properties throughout the country. Rights and obligations of foreign citizens in respect to the purchased real estate in Russia are the same as those for the Russian citizens. It is more difficult with the acquisition of land. Agreement of sale and purchase of real estate can be drawn up both by a notary and in free form. The cost of drawing up a notarial contract is about 1% of the real estate value. The main thing is that the property right is transferred only after the state registration of the Agreement of sale and purchase of the object in the Administration of the Federal Registration Service. The cost of state registration does not depend on the value of the property and amounts to 1000 rubles. Transfer of funds is usually carried out using pre-agreed banks. The seller obtains access to money after the state registration of the Agreement. The taxes on real estate are virtually absent in Russia. Cities leading in real estate cost are Moscow (from $ 3000 per sqm ) and St. Petersburg (from $2000 per sqm.)

 

Finland

Finnish legislation does not restrict the purchase of real estate on a permanent basis by non-citizens - paragraph 5 of the Foreigners Act. To exercise the right to purchase countryside real estate in Finland, a foreigner for a symbolic 20 must obtain a permit of Center for the Environment in the corresponding legal body. Documentation of the transaction takes not more than a week, after which the owner has the right to receive the most prolonged multivisa. It permits to stay on the territory of Finland (as well as the whole Schengen area) for 180 days per year. This is the maximum after which a new visa is issued.

Real estate tax is quite tolerable: the annual tax rate varies from 0.5 to 1% of estimated value of your real estate. For real estate which is used as permanent accommodation the tax amounts to 0.22-0.50%. Lump-sum payment at ownership registration for a house is worth 4% of the price, for an apartment - 1.6%. A foreigner has the right to lease his property according to a rental contract. Profit tax is 30% per year. In Finland process of purchase and sale transaction is simple. First, a Protocol of trust (Purchase and sale agreement) is drawn in the Finnish language with the notary, then 2000 Euros are paid as a deposit. 4% of the amount is paid separately in favor of the Finnish government as a tax.

Over the next 2-3 weeks it is necessary to pay the entire outstanding amount. This can be done immediately during Agreement documentation. After full payment a "certificate of ownership" is formalized (approximately within 10 days), after that the client becomes the rightful owner. Also you can obtain an extract from the real estate register and a certificate on deposits (encumbrances). Prices for apartments in Finland are 1.5 - 2.5 thousand Euros per 1 square meter. A house of 80 - 100 sqm. m. on 30 - 40 acres can be purchased at the price of 100 thousand Euros. In the Finnish hinterland you can buy a small house for 40 - 50 thousand Euro. One-storey house with a loft or a two-storey house of 150 - 350 sq.m. on the lake with its own marina, a land plot of 50 hectare or more will cost from 200 thousand Euros to 1.5 million Euros. Also in Finland you can buy a mansion or even a castle on a few acres of land with its own dock for several million Euros.

 

Sweden

Fast and simple real estate registration is quite unique in Sweden. Any foreign citizen has the right to acquire any real property in Sweden. Availability of a bank account is not required. Cash is enough. In Sweden they do not check where you obtained the money from. A real estate purchase and sale agreement (a contract) is signed in the presence of two witnesses. A Customer pays about 10% of the real estate cost (insurance of the agreement) to a Seller. The contract is drawn up in Swedish. Then you need to carry out the so-called "real estate survey" to determine the presence of significant shortcomings (cost of this procedure amounts to 500 Euros and more). If any shortcomings are present the Customer has a right to terminate the contract and contract insurance should be immediately paid back or the Customer obtains an opportunity to bargain.

After compliance with the above-mentioned procedures, the Customer pays the Seller the remaining amount. After that the property rights (Lagfart) are registered and a certificate of ownership is issued. Services on its registration amount to 1.5% of property cost (not market price but according to evaluation of local agencies) and an administrative fee of 80 Euros. It is worth noting that the contract should include the following: names of the parties; the name and description of the real estate; the contract price; terms for the real estate transfer. The purchased real estate must be registered under the cadastral number. In this case property taxes may be absent if the purchased item is new. Otherwise, the tax amounts to 1.7% of property value.

In addition to the contract there is also a scheme of buying an apartment through a cooperative (similar form of Soviet times). In Sweden, it is possible to purchase a real estate through an auction. This process takes not more than two days. And basically purchase follows the original sale price. The exception is the Stockholm real estate where prices can rise insignificantly. As a general rule in Sweden there are enough real estate offices whose responsibilities include entire transaction as well as a possible auction, verification of property rights, liens, encumbrances and subsequent registration of property rights. Real Estate in Sweden gives a right to a Schengen multivisa and coupled with the opening of business (there are no restrictions on the minimum authorized capital, a standard business plan is sufficient) the possibility of obtaining citizenship within five years.

 

Germany

In Germany, the procedure of real estate purchase is rather easy and completely transparent to foreign nationals. Foreigners can purchase both a residential and commercial real estate without any restrictions. In Germany any real estate must be registered in the registry of property where you can get complete information on who owns the property, what is its estimated value, the exact area of land and buildings, as well as possible debts of the owners. The deal is secured by a real estate notary. The contract is singed in a notary's presence protecting the interests of both parties. A Customer makes deposit in cash to a notary or through bank at contract signing or immediately after that. The rest of real estate cost can be paid within 28 days to a special bank account controlled only by a notary, and from that account a purchased real estate will be paid for.

The notary will check the purchased object to the existence of debts or any other commitments, he also pays for brokerage provision (broker commission, if any) and costs associated with registering in the Land Register. After signing of a bilateral agreement with a notary, and 100% payment transactions on the said account, the Customer becomes the owner of the purchased object. The notary sends the documents to the Office for Registration of Real Estate and within two months, the Customer receives the contract of purchase and sale authenticated by a notary.

The document is issued in the Customer's name, later the document is assigned with its own serial number, record number, page, volume for inclusion in the registry. You can also order an extract from the Book of property registering for additional money. Simultaneously with the contract the notary mails a bill for his services. The price ranges from 0.7 to 1.5% of property value. Fee for registration is 0.2 - 0.5%. Tax on property sale is 3.5%. After purchasing the property there are costs of its mandatory maintenance. In Germany, management services of your real estate amount to about 4% of rental rate. Acquisition of real estate in Germany does not mean a residence permit, but only entitles you to facilitate the procedures for obtaining a multivisa for 90 days.

 

Bulgaria

There are almost no restrictions on property purchase for foreigners in Bulgaria. The exception is land plots where a citizen of another state may obtain a right for a long-term lease. In Bulgaria, the purchase and sale procedure of a real estate is simple. At a public notary a Notarial Act is compiled reflecting the detailed description of the purchased property, its price, terms and conditions of payment, and for buildings under construction - Completion dates.

This Notarial Act will be the evidence of ownership in the future. In the district court the name of the new real estate owner is entered into the State Register of real estate. The note about that is included into the Notarial Act as well. Within up to 14 days after receipt of the Notarial Act the Customer is registered in the Bulgarian Statistics Institute (BULSTAT).

A registration number is assigned using which the next real estate transactions are done. In this case documents are filed both in Bulgarian and in native language of the Customer with a literal translation. Then it is possible to register the real estate in the tax service. For legal bodies taxes are calculated based on the reported value of the real estate; for private individuals - the tax is paid from 1 / 4 of property value (as determined by local tax authorities). In this case the tax is the same for individuals and legal bodies - 0.15%. Then, during maintenance of residential property a tax is charged for household waste disposal, which amounts to 0.17% on average depending on the location. Notary services for real estate documentation amount to 2-3%. Funds can be transferred through banks, depositories. One should know that the Customer pays VAT to the state treasury when purchasing real estate. For Russians, the language barrier in Bulgaria is almost absent. As it was previously mentioned the contract documents may be prepared both in Russian and Bulgarian languages.

 

Italy

It is very simple to purchase a property in Italy. The basic rule of document execution is completion of the transaction on time in compliance with the applicable laws.

Purchase process begins with the signing of a standard document between a Customer and a Seller required to reserve the property in favor of the Customer restricting the Seller from selling the respective property to others. This document is called the Purchase form. It must necessarily contain the following information: description of the reserved property, price, payment method, the term of reservation. As for reservation period it usually ranges from 15 to 21 days. The second stage is the guarantee of property, i.e. removing it from sale until completion of purchase and sale transaction. A contract transferring rights to the property is signed in notary's presence after obligations to pay and/or complete construction works will be fulfilled by the Customer and the Seller respectively (or a real estate developer if property is under construction at the time of preliminary purchase and sale contract). The preliminary contract is a binding agreement.

The final stage is a notary signing the final purchase and sale contract which represents a title of ownership. The final contract is signed in a notary's presence. Real estate title is transferred at the moment of the notary signing the final contract and transferring the keys. This moment is a formal adoption of the real estate by the Customer. Immediately after the notary's signing of the contract, according to the Italian law, an insurance policy is issued to the Customer in respect of the property for a ten-year period.

Providing the insurance policy is mandatory in accordance with the law, it should be provided and paid by the Seller as part of his obligations. The final notary contract (or a power of attorney, if any is issued by a lawyer) must be transferred according to law in the language that is accessible and understandable for the Customer.

After the notary signs the final contract it should be registered. According to the law, a real estate object is subject to registration in the cadastral register. This process takes 2-3 weeks, but the Customer takes ownership rights to real estate immediately after the notary signs the final purchase and sale contract. A notary and a lawyer follow the above-mentioned procedure providing the Customer with official copies of all documents required by the law.

For new buildings there is also a bank guarantee. In the event of possible bankruptcy of a construction company, the funds will be covered by the Customer's bank guarantee, i.e. paid money will be sent back to the investor / customer directly by the insurance company (or a bank). The bank guarantee covers all amounts paid in the process of real estate purchase including the deposit being made in order to reserve the property.

There is also a bank guarantee for new buildings. In case of possible bankruptcy of a construction company, the funds will be covered by the Customer's bank guarantee, i.e. the money will be sent back to the investor / buyer directly by an insurance company (or a bank). The bank guarantee covers all amounts paid in the process of real estate purchase including the deposit made in order to reserve the real estate object.

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