June 9, 2020 / 8:39 AM / 2 months ago

Russians make a dash for the dacha during coronavirus lockdowns

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russians rushed to purchase or rent country homes and plots of land to escape large cities during more than two months of lockdowns designed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, data from real estate brokers shows.

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows out-of-town cottages with plots of land, locally known as dachas, outside Saint Petersburg, Russia May 7, 2020. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov/File Photo

Many Muscovites turned to their dachas, cottages often attached to a plot of land, to ride out the crisis away from the sprawl of the Russian capital, the area worst-affected by the pandemic. Moscow’s lockdown, which had been in place since late March, was lifted on Tuesday.

Those who didn’t have access to cottages when the lockdown began were behind an uptick in demand for rentals and dachas for sale, realtors say.

“During two months of lockdown in the Moscow region, demand for cottages worth up to 3 million roubles ($43,914) and land up of up to 10 acres grew sharply,” realtor Tatyana Shotova said. “Buyers would just purchase and move in right away.”

Demand for plots of land about 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of Moscow increased by a third in April and May, while demand for finished houses in the area rose 50%, the Prostory real estate agency said.

Leading real estate websites also recorded an unusually high number of views for dachas for sale or rent.

DomClick.ru, owned by Sberbank, recorded nearly half a million views in May - seven times higher than in the same month last year.

Realtors expect this spike to be short-lived because low oil prices and the novel coronavirus, which has infected 485,253 people in the country, have put its economy on the path to recession.

“The main buying craze has passed, demand is now stable,” said Alexei Popov, head of the Centre for Real Estate Data and Analytics (CIAN). “A significant increase in demand is unlikely given the unstable situation in the economy.”

($1 = 68.3152 roubles)

Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Katya Golubkova and Barbara Lewis

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