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«**Did someone say Kazakstan?», Новостной портал «"Global Edge» 8 сентября 2011 г.
12.09.2011

When the film Borat became a box office sensation in 2007, the country recorded an unprecedented tourism boom.

Visitors expecting to see cow punching, the running of the Jew and Shurik (a game where you take dogs to a field and shoot them before having a party) were disappointed.

Kazakhstan is actually a liberal and cosmopolitan country with a wealthy middle class who have a growing appetite for overseas property.

That’s according to Aida Yesmagambetova, the Kazakstan-based director of Invest Realty – one of more than 200 agents from Russia, Kazakstan and CIS expected at this year’s Global Edge Russian Summit in Moscow on 17th & 18th November.

I caught up with her to find out a little more about the opportunities for overseas agents and developers in this untapped buyer market.

AR: What is Kazakhstan like?  Unfortunately many people only know of it from the film Borat, are there any truths in the portrayal?

AY: The Borat movie is just a comedy, it has nothing to do with the real Kazakhstan.  The Kazakh people are actually well-educated and cosmopolitan, although with strong traditional values and family ties.   There are more than 100 different nationalities living together in peace here.  The movie couldn’t be further from the truth.

AR: How long have you worked in overseas property?  

AY: More than 5 years. I started my own real estate business in 1996, when the real estate markets were booming in Kazakhstan and overseas.   We survived during the worst crisis times, when many real estate companies in Kazakhstan closed down.

AR: How does the market for overseas property compare with Russia?

AY: Considering the country is so large (it’s the ninth biggest by land mass in the world) the population is relatively small.  It is about 16 million.  So in terms of demand for international real estate, it is smaller than Russia just because of the difference in population.

AR: But there seems to be quite a bit of wealth around?

AY: Yes, it comes from natural resources and the financial services industries mainly.  Kazakhstan has every element from the periodic table athough not all of them can be easily extracted and refined.

Apart from the oil and gas industry, there are other rich industries, such as chrome ore, copper, zinc, titanium, uranium, wolfram, gold and many others.   Also our banking and financial sector is highly developed and is very advanced compared to other CIS countries

AR: Which are the main cities where wealth is concentrated?

AY: There are two major cities – Almaty, the former capital, now the largest city and the business and financial centre with population of 1.5 mln; and Astana, the capital and administrative centre of the country, population more than 500,000 people.

AR: What kind of international properties are people buying and why?  

AY: Kazakh buyers like Dubai and Turkey very much (close in terms of distance and culture), then comes London (to send children to study), then the European countries with the sea and sun – Bulgaria, Spain, France, Italy – for obvious reasons of personal leisure and vacation use.

AR: Are people buying in cash or with mortgage or developer finance?   What is most common?  

AY: Kazakh people buy mostly with cash.  They do consider mortgages as a possibility, but in the end they will prefer to find the money and buy without debts.  This is because of the culture – Kazakhs simply don’t like to be in debt.  Those who cannot afford buying for cash simply don’t buy.  This is not always the case of course, just the majority of clients don’t take mortgages.  Developer finance is also something new to us.

AR: You mentioned when we spoke last that you thought that the Kazakh market was some way behind Russia in terms of Sophistication, can you explain what you meant by that?

AY: Yes, I think that Kazakhs usually lag behind Russians by something like 3-5 years   Kazakh buyers are not that quick and venturous in exploring new markets as the Russians.  But the good news is that if Kazakh people buy, they will buy a better and bigger property, and certainly it will be more expensive one, compared to average Russian buyer.

The Kazakhs like comfort and prestige a lot.   Another good factor is that when Kazakh people buy an international property, they will bring in all their families (which are usually very large), and then the brothers and aunts and uncles and their relatives and friends will buy at the same place something similar, one after another.

AR: Thank you very much for time Aida.  I look forward to seeing you in Moscow in November.

About Russian Summit

Russian Summit is the only conference and exhibition dedicated to helping international property companies meet real estate agents from Russia and the CIS.

Aida Yesmagambetova is speaking on our roundtable on 17th November discussing the expectations of agents working in Russian and the CIS. 

For more information on the event visit www.russiansummit.com.

Автор: Ashley Rigg 

Global Edge


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