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Buying Property in Estonia as a Foreigner

The process of buying real estate in the Republic of Estonia can seem a bit complicated on the surface. With that said, the government of the Republic of Estonia has worked rather diligently to liberalize and modernize the laws governing the buying and selling of real estate in that country. In this regard, a good deal of effort has been expended making it a bit easier for foreign nationals to buy real estate in Estonia.

There are two primary contracts involved in the sale of real estate in Estonia. Both documents are prepared by a notary. Indeed, in Estonia it is mandatory that a notary be involved in the real estate sales process, that a notary prepare these primary documents. (As an aside, in some instances the notary does not need to prepare these documents his or her self. But, if someone else drafts these documents, the notary is legally required to review them in detail to make sure that they meet the requirements of Estonian law and reflect exactly the agreement that has been made between the parties.)

The initial agreement in the Estonian real estate sales process is the sales-purchase agreement. This agreement is prepared by the notary and is executed by the buyer and the seller once the seller makes an offer on the property that is for sale. Generally speaking, once the oral offer is made by the buyer to the seller, the sales-purchase agreement can be prepared and executed with a period of ten to thirty days (depending on what needs to be included in the agreement itself).

During the period of time between the execution of the sales-purchase agreement and the final agreement in the sales process, the buyer obtains financing and the seller makes certain that the property physically and legally is in a position to be conveyed and transferred to the buyer. In addition, during this interim period, the buyer must pay to the government what is known as a state fee — which is in the amount of 0.4% of the value of the real estate being sold and purchased.

The final agreement in the real estate sales process in Estonia is entitled the transfer of ownership in real estate agreement or document. When this document is duly executed by the parties, an application is made to the Land Register Office to transfer the ownership of the real estate from the seller to the buyer. In addition, following the filing of this application, a public notice of the change in ownership of the real estate is published in the Official State Gazette, the official publication in Estonia that publishes legal notices of this nature.

In summary, the process of buying real estate in Estonia does include a number of hurdles that seem confusing and complicated on the surface. But, as has been noted, the laws have been modernized and liberalized in recent years. Chances are quite good that the government of Estonia will continue to work to make the real estate laws in that country a bit more “user friendly” and less cumbersome in the future.

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