Citadele Bank (Latvia)

One in Three Latvians Has Considered Moving Due to COVID-19

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  • Latvians were most likely to consider moving, and would choose to move to a suburb or the countryside
  • Estonians were half as likely to consider moving to an urban neighbourhood: 5 % compared with 11 % in Latvia and Lithuania. Meanwhile, Lithuanians were more likely to choose to move to a small town: 16 %, compared with 12 % in Latvia and 9 % in Estonia
  • Estonians are much more willing to purchase a property remotely—71 % of Estonians, 62 % of Latvians and 47 % of Lithuanians—and sign contracts remotely—69 % in Estonia, 39 % in Latvia and 36 % in Lithuania

35 % of Latvians have considered moving their place of residence due to the situations caused by the pandemic. These are mainly families with children who admit that they want to live in a house or larger apartment, while young people and seniors would often prefer a more economical home, according to a survey of the Baltics by Citadele Bank and research agency Norstat.

The countries neighbouring Latvia were less likely to consider moving—30 % of Lithuanians and 20 % of Estonians—and were more likely to want a house or larger apartment.

Due to the pandemic, our daily lives have changed, and it has caused people to reconsider the suitability of their existing home for these new conditions. 18 % of Latvians would like to live in a house and 11 % would choose a larger apartment, and these people are more likely to be families with children. Meanwhile, 4 % would choose to live in a more isolated location, according to the survey by Citadele.

However, not everyone who considered moving during the pandemic would like a larger home; 3 % stated that they wanted a more economical or smaller home, and this was significantly more likely among young people under the age of 30 and those aged over 60.

“The pandemic has forced us to consider the suitability of our homes for the new normal as well as the specific stage of our lives. In a situation where we are spending a lot of time at home, which serves as our office, school, kindergarten and place of residence all at once, a suitable home is even more crucial for a comfortable life. In the survey, we see that residents of all three Baltic countries would rather buy in a suburb or the countryside. This trend can already be seen in mortgage applications. People are particularly evaluating a home’s suitability for remote work, and are more likely to choose property outside of the city, because we are no longer going to the office every day. The most active mortgage takers are families with children; 70% of mortgages issued by Citadele are to families with children, and more than half of these use a guarantee from development finance institution ALTUM,” explains Citadele Board Member Vladislavs Mironovs.

If they had an unlimited budget, 32 % of Latvian respondents would choose a suburban home, and 28 % would choose a home in the countryside, according to the survey. Estonians and Lithuanians answered similarly: 28 % of Lithuanians and 34 % of Estonians would choose to live in a suburb, and 27 % and 31 % respectively would choose the countryside.

Life in the city centre or old town interests Latvians the least, with 10 % wanting to live there, while 15 % of Lithuanians and Estonians chose this answer. Estonian are least likely to choose an urban neighbourhood—5 % of respondents—compared with 11 % in Latvia and Lithuania. Meanwhile, Lithuanians are more likely to select a small town: 16 % compared with 12 % in Latvia and 9 % in Estonia.

“Interestingly, Estonians are much more willing to purchase a home remotely. Following general remote service usage trends, digital skills and remote signature use, willingness to purchase a property remotely will certainly grow. Customers can already purchase a home completely remotely using the remote application on our website, video consultations and remote contract signing,” explains Mironovs.

Estonians are most appreciative of the option to apply for a mortgage remotely. 71 % of Estonians, 62 % of Latvians and 47 % of Lithuanians stated that the most convenient way to apply for a mortgage is through a website, online bank or app.

Willingness to sign contracts remotely also differs dramatically among the Baltic countries. Most Estonians—69 %—would rather sign a contract electronically, while most Latvians and Lithuanians would rather do it in person, with only 39 % and 36 % respectively willing to sign a contract digitally.

The survey used a representative sample and was undertaken at the end of January this year by research agency Norstat, surveying 1,000 residents of each Baltic country aged between 18 and 74.

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