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Montenegro Dominated By Russians Oh No It Isnt

News Posted On: 23 January 2012

Montenegro Dominated by Russians Oh No it isn't

Most of us will have heard about the great spats that big rap stars often have with other big rap stars, like Eminem and his pure hatred for Ja Rule, because it sells records. But we don't often see similar behaviour in the overseas property world, not least because it would unlikely result in an agent selling more property, more likely the opposite would be true. However, in this month's OPP we have come pretty close to it, at least in the level of passion being poured into the argument -- a little bit of excitement anyway.

Basically Montenegro property agents have taken up arms over claims in the Russian press that Russians own 40% of property in Montenegro, and especially claims in Croatian publication Slobodna Dalmacija saying that some towns are 100% Russian-owned.

Andrea Marston, former partner of agency Montenegro Prospects, told OPP exclusively that she feels the claims are “ludicrous”, and that Montenegro is much more than just “Moscow-on-Sea”.

Marston said: “I find the claim that 40% of property owners are Russian pretty ludicrous. You only have to walk around to know that isn’t true.”

Marston said that both Croatia and Montenegro were popular with Brits and Europeans in 2007 and when Russians started buying then they preferred Montengro because "unlike Croatia, they didn’t need visas to visit, could buy property without having to set up a company and there were historical cultural ties". So now, when most of the buyers are Russian Montengro is buoyed by their activity while Croatia "has practically gone into hibernation for some years now".

Marston also said that she thought it much more likely that Russian's were responsible for 40% of sales in 2010-11, but not 40% of the countries entire housing stock. To be the voice of mediation, perhaps they are both right to a certain extent.

Of course, we would need a Montengro census report to know the exact percentages of Russian owners, however, we know that Russian buyers are in the millions and that Montenegro is very popular with Russian buyers.

Montengro is also the smallest country in the EU with a total population of just 631,400 according to Google public data via the World Bank. This is compared to a population of over 7 million in London. London has areas that are dominated by one race or another, so one has to ask how many Russians it would take to own Montenegro properties before they began to become dominant?

However, at the same time, how much does it matter? Look at Spain, during the boom many resorts were heavily dominated by British buyers, but we didn't have Spanish agents on the box protesting that Brits weren't dominant. Maybe because most of the buyers were still British so it was more of a selling point than a negative, so maybe Marston has missed a trick here.

At the moment, Russian buyers are a dominant force in the world of overseas property, so wherever we consider buying they will likely be there in force. However, if this were to become a reason not to buy for other nationalities then their dominance would never end nor even be diluted.

But this won't happen. On my last UK holiday I saw more Asians than I have in one place in my life but it didn't matter at all, it made not one single difference to anything. In fact, I didn't even realise I had noticed this until I was trying to think of an example of internationalisation at play. I fail to see how too many Russian buyers could put anyone off buying in Montenegro. Let's hope no one goes for my throat for saying so.

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