At the time of this Wednesday afternoon when I was attending this newspaper, the Russian real estate operator Alexei Ezouvjky he just hung up two calls in a row from his clients and compatriots asking him to rent out the houses they bought on the beaches from Alicante.

They are just part of the “many” orders that his agency, Spaintur, based in the capital of the Costa Blanca and specialized in Russian clients, is receiving. “They are coming infinity of calls with doubts”, he says, and it is corroborated by other agents specialized in real estate for Russian citizens who have consulted this newspaper in Alicante, Malaga, Valencia and Barcelona.

It all started with troubled whatsapp messages with Cyrillic characters, just 72 hours after the tanks broke into Ukrainian territory. And the telephone chats grew fatter as the newscasts reeled off the corralito in Russia. The fear of further confiscatory measures on this and the other side of Putin’s curtain is removing the market in Spain with sales and rental orders.

The Russian colony in Spain travels -The INE counted 79,485 Russians in January 2021- the fear of being collateral damage

era of the war that the EU has declared on Putin’s oligarchs; or simply, and ignoring its legal foundations, the fear of European restrictions, entering the bag of freezing assets decided by the EU for the aggression against Ukraine.

In search of lost liquidity

“At first they call determined to sell, but they prefer to rent as soon as they get good advice and we explain solutions to them,” explains Ezouvjky. The key is called liquidity. Russian citizens are even desperately looking for her. The first reaction of fear for the war and the European response was to think about selling the houses in Spain.

“They are scared, but unwilling to discount,” says Russian intermediary Oksana Peresadko of her clients.

“They call me to sell clients from the Marina Alta, Orihuela Costa, Alicante and the Altea area… They are scared, but unwilling to discounts,” he told this newspaper at the end of last week Oksana Peresadko, real estate broker with a large agenda on the Alicante coast. This week he assures that the trend is changing: “It is better to rent”.

The cases reported by Oksana are of Russians with an average of four years of residence in Spain. Some came earlier, lured by the bubble bargain advertising; others have a job in Moscow or Saint Petersburg and part of the family and savings in bricks in this corner of Europe; your retirement plan. “Suddenly they see themselves without enough money to pay for their life there and the house here. They need quick liquidity,” reasons Peresadko, who is also a model with a stage name: Soviet.

“The rent is more stable than the sale,” he explains in Barcelona Oscar Martinez Solozabal, president of the Professional Association of Real Estate Experts. “By renting, they keep the property. And to protect themselves of an alleged confiscation, it is safer to have the house rentedbecause the law cannot harm a third party”.

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In addition, he believes, “it is easier to move a monthly income of 2,000 euros to Russia than 300,000 for the sale of a villa. That is what some bank stops.”

fear issue

No edict of the European Council mandates the expropriation, freezing, confiscation or blocking of assets belonging to Russian residents in the EU, only those of those oligarchs, politicians and military who contribute to the invasion of Ukraine, but fear has spread among a social group immersed in nervousness and, therefore, prey to rumours. For example, that they could lose the right of residence.

“A lot of people think so, and afraid of Russophobia,” says Katerina S., agent for Inmorusa, a Valencian firm with a Russian, Ukrainian, Moldovan clientele…. This professional does not corroborate the wave of sales orders: “Our clients from Valencia city they came to live, in a non-profit residence, and neither think nor want to leave. Your flat is your life here,” he explains.

“They have the mortgage, they want to pay but, with everything blocked, how to send the money?” explains Alexey Ezouvjky

In many cases, they tell Spaintur, it is about raising funds to pay the mortgage and house expenses in Spain. “They have the loan, they want to pay… but with everything blocked how do they send money? They can’t, and they prefer not to risk the bank moving,” says Ezouvjky, owner of the agency.

“The Russian investor who bought in Spain, the first thing he did is open an account – Martínez Solozábal account -. It is rare that they do not have liquidity here to endure a seasonbut if they rent here, they can deposit the rent in their bank and start making the payments…”

This type of decision is also taking place, says this businessman, in Almería and Málaga. And not only with respect to chalets, villas or flats purchased in the Andalusian city, but also to properties in Vera, Marbella and Mijas. “But it operates in Malaga, because that’s where the purchases were closed back in the day when the bubble burst.”

play and lose

Not a few Russians who they poured money into the Spanish real estate market they did it planning to rent. And that’s what they’re doing now, but not so much for business as for pure salvation.

Rent or give up and sell. The week started for Alexey with an urgent call from Benidorm. One of his clients, a Russian businesswoman whose name he does not reveal, has a hotel of less than 20 million of euros, now closed for the low season, and that it cannot sustain from the playpen that Russia has become.

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“She search sell before the bank takes it away”, explains this young real estate agent, with 13 of his 32 years living in Spain, and pending the final process to obtain nationality. He tells it in the embarrassed tone of so many Russians who receive calls from the press these days.

Those who are soaked in this wave of fears about their properties are not exactly friends of Putin, nor oligarchs, nor generals

“They are a cultivated class, doctors, engineers, architects who have nothing to do with Putin…”

nor Duma deputies. In your country you are suffering the consequences of your president’s strategy. “A 50-year-old client, a businesswoman, who had bought several properties from us, has had to close his business in Russia -says the Russian-Alicante operator-. He wanted to bring his whole family to live here, including his older mother. Politics has broken his dream.”

In Barcelona, ​​an intermediary and property maintenance and custody agent for Russians who prefers not to publish his name reports that his best client, from S’Agaró, “is leaving. He has asked me to find him a buyer because he is taking his family and what it has to Dubai“.

dark horizon

That’s the high-end Russian investor; wealthy, but excluded from the circle of oligarchs. But he also fears a Russophobic freeze for an upper-middle class client, with a mortgage in a Spanish bank and an outstanding balance of around 100,000 euros, according to the experience of the owner of Spaintur.

They are, he says, “a cultivated class of Russians, doctors, architects, engineers, small businessmen who they have nothing to do with Putinwho never thought of a war and who plan to flee from the false democracy that they have turned Russia into”.

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Despite censorship, that professional class she’s as knowledgeable as the russians here on the dark clouds that prevent them from seeing an economic respite if the war continues, and of which the coma in which their credit cards sleep is a clear symptom.

But these people are not the only ones who are calling the Russian-Spanish real estate agencies. Now there are also – “thirty today”, says Alexei – calls from Ukrainians looking for a place to stay. “Something for not much a month,” explains Peresadko. Both he and she work with Ukrainians; war does not exist in their contact lists or in their offices. “But we can’t help them,” he explains. At the moment the landlords do not trust people without guarantees. “Some Spaniards want to host -says Oksana-, but what others are looking for is a maid to take care of the house for 900 euros”.

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