This post will tell you everything you need to know about how to buy property in Tbilisi. It was written from the perspective of an expat.
Tbilisi, Georgia has become a popular destination for expats from all over the world. Georgia is a lovely country that has something for everyone–big city life with modern amenities, wine country, skiing, hiking and a rich, cultural history that dates back thousands of years.
The cost of living in Georgia is very reasonable by most standards. It is lovingly described by some as “first world living at third world prices.” That statement applies to just about everything in Georgia, including property in Tbilisi. It is no surprise that many foreigners like to buy property in Tbilisi.
The following is a list of common questions that come from people who want to buy property in Tbilisi. This should give you a good overview of what to expect.
Can foreigners own property in Georgia?
Yes, citizens of any country can own property in Georgia with the same rights as Georgian citizens. There is one notable exception, though: Georgian citizens are the only ones allowed to own agricultural land. All other property is fair game for everyone.
What is required if I want to purchase a property in Georgia in order to obtain residency?
Georgia offers a one-year residency permit in exchange for investing in property. The market value of the property must be USD $100,000 or more for a one-year residency permit. The $100,000 number is NOT the purchase price–it is the market value. Just because you spend $100,000 does not mean the property is worth $100,000.
There are some sad stories from foreigners who come to Georgia, buy a property in Tbilisi that costs $100,000 (because they decided not to use an agent and didn’t know they were overpaying) and when they went to apply for their residency permit, they discovered the true market value of their property was only USD $90,000. NO RESIDENCY PERMIT FOR THEM! And now they are stuck with a property they would have to sell at a loss if they needed to sell it.
Also, buying a property in Georgia worth USD $100,000 or more does not guarantee that your official residency will be approved–it just means you are eligible to apply at that point. There are other steps to the application process that will determine whether you qualify or not. A quality agency or lawyer will be able to help you with a proper valuation of anything you are considering buying.
How do I find a real estate agent in Tbilisi that I can trust?
We have gathered a number of reliable agents in our company who can help you buy a property in Tbilisi. All of them have been reviewed and trained by our experts, all of them speak English at an acceptable level, and all of them can provide several references from other immigrants who have used them. We also have agents who are fluent in other languages such as Russian, German, Turkish and Persian. Contact us and we will connect you (for free).
How do commissions work in Georgia?
Commission rates for real estate agents in Georgia are low. A seller can expect to pay 2-3% of the final sales price to an agent. A buyer will usually not have to pay anything for buyer representation (because buyer’s agents are paid by the seller).
Sometimes buyers will choose to pay an agent 1-2% to a buyer’s agent if the agent is bringing them properties that are not available anywhere online, or if the agent is doing extra work for a buyer who is not living in Georgia, such as construction property management, previewing properties, organizing a formal valuation, searching for tenants after construction is completed, etc.
Can a foreigner get a mortgage to buy a property in Tbilisi? What are the steps?
Yes, it is possible for foreigners to get mortgages in Georgia. Just because it is possible does not mean it is easy, or advisable.
First, you will need to have proper residency or citizenship in order to obtain a mortgage in Georgia. You will also need to show proof of income (usually through tax filings from your income earned in Georgia). Just like banks everywhere else in the world, Georgian banks will base the amount you can borrow for a mortgage on your income level. They want to be sure you can repay your mortgage.
The mortgage interest rates in Georgia are hefty. At the time of this writing (2022), mortgage interest rates are 12-14% in Georgia, depending on your situation.
It is also important to note that you will need a significant down payment before the bank will consider giving you a mortgage. It is common for banks to require a 20% down payment in order to obtain a mortgage. Also, mortgages in Georgia are usually 10-year terms.
Because of the residency requirements, income requirements, high interest rates, large down payments and short mortgage terms, many foreigners in Georgia choose to pay cash for their properties instead of messing about with mortgages.
Of course, there are development companies that sell their apartments with a 20% down payment and two or three year interest-free installments, which do not require proof of income and have good conditions for foreigners. If you want to know about these projects, feel free to contact us.