Compact life: who buys studio apartments in St. Petersburg and for what

Компактная жизнь: кто и для чего покупает квартиры-студии в Петербурге


    The area of studio apartments in St. Petersburg has decreased by about 20% in 10 years, while the demand for them is not falling. By the end of 2023, their market share is about 40%, and in sales from different developers — from 30% or more. Such apartments are most often bought for investment, but there is a whole category of buyers who choose them for living, because this option remains the most budget-friendly.

    The participants of the Fontanka round table told what is happening in the market of small—sized housing and lots in apartments.

    Stable demand

    Mortgage demand, including the demand for studios, was affected by an increase in the down payment to 20% on a family mortgage and up to 30% on a mortgage with state support. As Maria Orlova, Commercial director of A101 Group of Companies in St. Petersburg, noted, this is noticeable for the market — at least for the comfort class.

    — According to our research, now about 21% of buyers can afford a down payment of a maximum of 15%, — she says. — And this affects the flow of demand from urban new buildings to regional ones and the growth of interest in studios in the whole region. For example, in our projects, the average check for a two—room apartment is now 5.8–6 million rubles. In the city, on such a budget, you can only afford a studio, at best a one-room apartment. Now in the A101 Lagolovo project, more than 60% of sales invariably fall on family-format apartments, however, in the last two months we have seen an increase in the share of studios by 5%, while sales of one-room apartments have decreased by 8%. Of course, now we would like the demand for small—size formats to at least not rise, but ideally decrease, shifting the focus to multi-room apartments. And there are prerequisites for this, for example, the extension of the family mortgage program.

    — According to GloraX analysts, the share of transactions with studios and studio apartments in the primary market in St. Petersburg amounted to more than 72% at the end of last year, that is, in fact, this is the top product among customers, and in all segments, including premium. Even after the difficult first two months of 2024, we can say that the demand for studios remains stable. In our experience, studios are a product that is always interesting to customers, it does not matter whether there is state support or not, such lots remain the most attractive in value and provide developers with strong stable demand, — says Tatyana Khalilova, Director of sales Department of Glorax.

    The demand for small-sized housing remains consistently high, adds Marina Pavlyukevich, CEO of PLG, Chairman of the RGUD Committee on Hotel Real estate Especially now, when the requirements for mortgage loans are being tightened and buyers are trying to save their savings and have time to “jump into the last car” and invest in real estate. According to her, the share of transactions with studios and studio apartments in 2023 in the primary market of St. Petersburg amounted to more than 70%. And as an investment product, studios are the most suitable and liquid product in the profitable real estate market today.

    “We remain in the market and see positive dynamics on the example of our IN2IT project,” she adds. — The business location allows you not to end the tourist season in August, and we keep the load percentage at 80% until November.The demand for studios remains consistently strong, and closer to the season, the demand for rent increases both for studio rooms and for higher room categories.

    — Studios are popular not because of their special format and residential characteristics, but because of the small size and relatively inexpensive final cost of the lot, – says Ekaterina Nemchenko, commercial director of the holding “RSTI”. — Despite the fact that the cost per square meter of studios is usually the highest in the facility, they are more affordable than other lots by purchase receipt, which means that the audience of studio buyers is noticeably wider than that of multi-room apartments. Recent restrictions on preferential mortgage programs (for example, the loan size is no more than 6 million rubles) have affected purchasing power and demand. If in the first half of last year we saw a decrease in interest in studios and an increase in sales of studio apartments, then in the second half of the year the studios regained their positions and strengthened in 2024.

    — In general, in the agglomeration of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region, the demand for studios has been quite stable over the past five years – in 2019, their share in the total sales structure was 31%, and in 2023 it reached 29%, — continued Olga Kobyakova, Commercial director of St. Petersburg Real Estate. — The fourth quarter of 2023 spurred demand for studios to almost 33%, as against the background of changes in the initial payment, people sought to invest and save their own savings. And, of course, starting in the third quarter, a larger percentage of investors in the market became noticeable among buyers: many understood that a mortgage was available on favorable terms with minimal investments, which would allow them to earn well in the future. If we talk about changes in the conditions of state support, we do not record strong changes in demand by type of apartments. Yes, the structure of mortgage transactions is changing. But even for clients with minimal contributions, special programs are available that allow you to reduce the monthly payment for the construction period, and then enter the market rate and, if necessary, use a refinancing tool.

    As told by Sergey Sofronov, Commercial Director of PSK Group Last year, relative to 2022, the demand for studios in St. Petersburg decreased slightly — by about 3 percentage points, but the share of studios in the supply, on the contrary, increased by 5%. The total supply of this format in pieces last year amounted to about 10.5 thousand, and studios accounted for 30% of all apartments sold in 2023 in St. Petersburg. For comparison, the share of one—room apartments is 42%. The average prices for studios in the city remained fairly stable — 5.4–5.7 million rubles.

    Oksana Ponamorenko, Director of Marketing Communications at L1 Construction Company No. 1, added that demand for studios has been and remains consistently high, since this is the most financially affordable housing, which is often chosen for the first independent purchase, and an increase in the initial payment and an increase in the interest rate on a preferential mortgage did not change the overall picture.

    As long as it takes

    According to Sergey Sofronov The share of studios in new projects is calculated based on market demand, location and project concept. If we evaluate the market of new buildings as a whole, the share of studios in the supply for the whole of 2023 was almost 26%, one—room – 36.5%. Another quarter fell on two—room apartments and the rest on all the others. The demand for these formats in St. Petersburg outstripped the supply. According to him, in inexpensive new buildings, studios and one-room apartments often account for 75% of all options, with almost complete absence of three-room apartments. But there are also examples of a different approach.

    — For example, in the Respect residential quarter, which we are building near the Lesnaya metro station, studios account for 25% of all apartments, — he says. — This is less than one-room apartments (37%), and less than the average in the comfort class. Moreover, this is even slightly less than there will be two-bedroom apartments in the same project (26%). And there are also three rooms. This is an example of the concept of a quarter designed more for personal living, for families.

    As told by Maria Orlova Last year, the Leningrad Region took the first place in Russia in terms of the number of studios sold on the secondary market. Most of them are located in Murino, Bugra and Kudrovo. Now, if we consider the primary market, then both in St. Petersburg and in the Leningrad region there are projects where studios make up 40% of all apartments, although 7-10 years ago this value was about 20%.

    — In our residential areas, we still design no more than 20% of studios. At the same time, we see that some developers have up to 80% of sales for such apartments, which gives an overall increase in the market,” she noted.

    — The share of studios, of course, depends on the project and its class, — says Tatyana Khalilova. — But we have this type of apartment everywhere — in premium, business and comfort. For example, this year we are putting into operation our first apart-hotel GloraX Zanevsky. In our opinion, this is a very attractive product for investment — the verified footage of studio apartments with full furniture allows you to use these lots for rent to tourists or, for example, to settle children who have come to the city to study. It has all the amenities of the hotel, including complete security, which is important in the case of students who may be alone in a big city for the first time. Studios in our new residential project in the Leningrad region GloraX Housewarming turned out to be a fairly popular product for investment — due to the affordable cost, which fell within the new mortgage limits, these lots were in demand even in February 2024, when there was a general drop in sales.

    — Including studios in the apartment complex, we carefully consider the ergonomics of their space, — Ekaterina Nemchenko continued. — Despite the small size of the lot, we set the zoning, think over usage scenarios and organization of everyday life so that it is really comfortable and convenient to live. Among our planning developments there are studios with three windows, with a window in the bathroom. In the projects of “RTI” there are studios in the range of 17-27 sq. m. The share of studios is about 20-23% of the total number of apartments.

    Marina Pavlyukevich added that over the past 10 years, the share of such an offer in apartment hotels in the primary market of St. Petersburg has increased significantly, and in different projects it can exceed 80% in apartment construction.

    “Our share of studio rooms is 65%, and for apartments it is significantly lower than the market average, which can reach 90%,” she added. — The increase in the number of studios in the market as a whole largely indicates the trend of a constant influx of young professionals. Small-sized apartments also attract the attention of professionals in various fields, and we note the demand among corporate and tourist clients.

    — The share of studios in residential complexes directly depends on the class of real estate, — continued Oksana Ponamorenko. — There are few or no such options in expensive projects. In new buildings of the standard class, studios can make up more than half of the total offer. The optimal number of studios in comfort-class facilities: for example, in the “English” quarter of L1, London Park, Shakespeare, Byron residential complexes, studios account for about 10-15% of the total volume.

    — The share of studios depends on the strategy of the developer, the location and the class of housing being built, — Olga Kobyakova clarified. — In projects of integrated development of territories, their percentage is naturally higher than in business-class housing. Of course, the variability of square footage is also important, for example, Setl Group, within its own apartment design, in most cases designs classic versions marked by the highest demand — these are studios with an area of 24 sq. m. If we consider the share of studios in the segment of service apartments, then they occupy a share of almost 87% in the demand structure. Which is logical, since it is easier for an investor to invest in a small square footage and earn the same money as in a studio apartment. If we are talking about apartments — an analog of housing, then their share in demand is 53%.

    Investment option

    Over the past five years, the average area of apartments under construction in St. Petersburg has decreased to 42 square meters (and even less in the agglomeration as a whole), and the cost per square meter of housing has increased 2.5 times, – such statistics were cited by Sergey Stepanov, sales director of the Construction Trust Association. According to him, today out of 150 thousand apartments under construction in St. Petersburg, more than 66% are small—sized housing: studios and one-room apartments, which are used by buyers primarily for investment purposes, and not for their own living, which provokes further price increases.

    — Entire residential complexes consisting of studios and one—room apartments are being brought to the market, – he says. — As a result, Russian families cannot really improve their living conditions, and an uncomfortable urban environment is being formed in Russian cities. Personally, I believe that in order to correct the current situation in the primary market, it is necessary to prohibit at the legislative level the design and construction of apartments of less than 33 square meters; to set the maximum share of one—room apartments – no more than 10% of the total number of apartments in a residential complex; to fix the definition of “one-room apartment” as an apartment with at least two rooms: a kitchen and a bathroom (each with a window) and a bathroom; the remaining share in the residential complex should be occupied by multi-room apartments (from 45 sq. m.).

    In his opinion, the current investment demand for small-sized apartments can be satisfied by developing a system of apartment hotels (apartment complexes, apartment buildings) in the Russian Federation with professional management companies interested in maintaining the proper condition of the facility and its high status. Such initiatives will improve the appearance of new family residential complexes and hotel-type facilities, which will create a comfortable urban environment and curb price growth in the primary market, as well as land plots for residential development. In addition, an increase in the volume of construction of hotel-type facilities will preserve the total volume of construction in the country and increase tax revenues to the budget from the legalization of rent.

    — This is my personal opinion, supported by my work experience at the Construction Trust company, — he added. — For 32 years now, the company has been successfully implementing projects of residential complexes focused on comfortable living for families, with a large proportion of multi-room apartments. The average area of apartments in our company today is 63 sq. m.

    It is necessary and sufficient

    Sergey Sofronov believes that 23-26 sq. m. m is the optimal area for the studio at the moment. In such a quadrature, you can arrange furniture and achieve a comfortable environment by zoning.

    — The layout itself does not change fundamentally, the studios are usually rectangular in shape, — he says. — There is no point in considering and comparing projects with a free layout, since there can be any solutions here, as well as squares.

    Oksana Ponamorenko It confirmed the downward trend in studio space.

    “In some standard class projects, you can find options with an area of less than 18 square meters,” she says. — Of course, it is difficult to call such housing comfortable, it can only be considered as a temporary option. In the new buildings of L1, the footage of studios starts from 27 “squares”. All functional areas can be allocated on such an area without compromising comfort.

    — From the point of view of studios, we are going against the market, as we design few of them, — says Maria Orlova. — Our main audience is families, so the share of multi—room apartments prevails both in demand and in the exposition. At the same time, if we consider those studios that we have, then the main demand is for options with a square footage of 24-28 sq. m. If we talk about the meter of one-room apartments, then most often they acquire standard 35-37 sq. m.

    — Now the “run-up” of studio footage is quite significant. For example, in our capital project GloraX Premium Belorusskaya, we have studios with an area of slightly more than 30 meters, but this is rather a Moscow-specific feature, when lots are purchased as an investment or a place to stop in the city for the period of a business visit. In addition, such an area is due to the premium class, in which small-scale cutting of lots is not welcome. We have also all seen how studios with an area of 15-17 m appeared on the market, which is hardly a comfortable space even for one person. In our opinion, in the comfort class, the optimal square footage for a studio is a space of 20-25 square meters. m with thoughtful zoning, possibly two windows. We really hope that this area will remain approximately the same, and the lots will be 15 square meters. They will be isolated cases in the market and will not turn into a steady trend,” says Tatyana Khalilova.

    — Relative to those large families that once lived with their parents for 4-5 people and led a joint household, the modern family looks different, — explains Marina Pavlyukevich. — Today, 1-2 people are living more and more, and if everything is planned correctly, then a smaller area will be enough for life, for example, a one-room apartment with a large kitchen-living room instead of a two-room apartment. Also, demand was largely influenced by the constant rise in real estate prices, which significantly changed the market and buyers’ preferences. Studio apartments, that is, the most affordable housing, have decreased by about 20% in 10 years — from 30 sq.m. up to 25 sq. m. If we talk about studios in apartment hotels, then the most comfortable square footage starts from 24 sq. m. In our IN2IT project there are studios of several categories ranging from 18 to 26 sq. m.

    Price issue

    Olga Kobyakova I have provided statistics for the beginning of this year. In March, in St. Petersburg, in the mass market segment, a square meter of a studio cost an average of 246.9 thousand rubles, one-room apartments – 237.8 thousand rubles, that is, the difference was about 11 thousand rubles. In the Leningrad region, the difference is the same, only for studios the price of a meter reached 158.6 thousand rubles, for one—room apartments – 147.8 thousand rubles.

    — You need to understand that if 40-45% of studios are designed in the facility, the price for them will be lower, and the cost of one-room apartments will increase. That is why a lot depends on the apartment design of the projects,” she explained. — In addition, the cost is affected by the content of the project, since in the same location sometimes the price difference for different objects can reach 40 thousand rubles per square meter.

    According to Sergey Sofronov, in the comfort class with studios in the apartment industry, a square meter of one-room apartments costs an average of 7-20% less than studios. Between one- and two—room apartments, and further in ascending order, there will also be a decrease in price in terms of square meter – a larger square footage means a higher total price. The expert stressed that, in other words, studios are the most expensive format for the cost of a “square”, but the cheapest for the price of an apartment.

    — Prices in the primary market of St. Petersburg increased to 260 thousand rubles per square meter by 2024, and we remain in the market, — says Marina Pavlyukevich. — We are adjusting according to the principle of dynamic pricing as apartments of a certain category are sold. Comfort studios are very popular, their share in the IN2IT project is about 11-12%. The layout assumes a clear zoning of the hallway, kitchen and sleeping area. This room is suitable for both long-term and short-term rentals. From the point of view of liquidity, these numbers showed good operating profitability in both low and high seasons, and there are very few of them left.

    — There is always a difficult balance between studios and small studio apartments — in studios, the cost per square meter is higher, due to the smaller square footage. For developers, such a difference is not very critical, but for the client it can amount to an amount comparable to the amount of the initial payment, which is noticeable, — saidTatyana Khalilova.

    Oksana Ponamorenko added that the difference in the footage of a studio apartment and a studio may be small, and the difference in cost is about 15%.

    — If we talk about prices, then in the residential area “A101 Lagolovo” the average cost of a studio is now 3.5 million, and a square meter in this segment is 153 thousand rubles. — said Maria Orlova. — One-room apartment, with an average price per square meter of 131 thousand rubles, costs 4.8 million. In the A101 Vsevolozhsk area, the studio will cost 4.1 million with an average cost of 163 thousand rubles per square meter, and a studio apartment — 5.3 million and 145 thousand rubles per square meter. The difference in the cost of a square meter in a studio and a studio apartment turns out to be somewhere around 15%, and this is quite a big value, on average it is 8-10% in the market.

    For your own purposes

    According to Maria Orlova Studios are bought most often as first homes for children. Often, parents purchase a studio in the same location where they live themselves, and can rent it out until the children grow up. Studios are also comfortable for moving from another region, they are especially popular with students.

    “It turns out that the purpose of buying a studio is mixed — both for investment and for life,” she says. — However, the main reason for the interest in this format is the economy. If customers have the opportunity to purchase a one-room apartment or more, they will choose them, regardless of their goals.

    Oksana Ponamorenko noted that studios are bought both for personal residence and for investment purposes. For themselves, such housing is more often chosen by young people who want to live separately from their parents. Also, according to her, this option is great for the elderly: it is easier to keep order in a small apartment, utility bills for it are lower. Investors choose such real estate because there is a good demand for low-cost rental housing.

    — This is the optimal square footage for starting an investment activity, — Marina Pavlyukevich believes. — The greatest interest from investors is caused by service apartment hotels, where there is a management company that takes care of all issues related to the maintenance and loading of apartments, and the owner receives passive income. From the point of view of investments, apartments are a more attractive segment for investing their funds. Due to new legislative changes, apartments are now less attractive for daily rent. The apartments are more secure, there is a hotel cluster on the territory, video surveillance, infrastructure.

    — It seems to me that the portrait of the buyer of studio apartments is relatively the same in the entire market: most often these are those who buy their first home, or buy an apartment for children “to grow up”, or these are investors, – added Tatyana Khalilova. — Investors have not been very active in the market lately, but we are sure that this is a temporary downturn, since now many customers have potential down payments on bank deposits. Investors are waiting for the expiration of the rate of 16% per annum, which banks now give for 3-6 months and in the future they will probably return to the real estate market. For example, according to our GloraX Zanevsky project, which we will put into operation in the middle of this year, we already see renewed investor interest in the product,” she stressed.

    — Studios are a classic story. Very often, customers buy them when they solve family issues. For example, they tend to be close to their parents to help at any time. Or they count on the support of grandparents so that they can look after the child while the parents are at work, — Olga Kobyakova gives examples. — Another category of buyers are investors or clients who purchase a studio for the future for children. Even if they do not have a large amount for the initial payment, but have savings of up to 800 thousand rubles, many of them choose to invest this amount in the studio, fixing the cost and the minimum interest rate.

    Sergey Sofronov clarified that both savings and investments are the two main motives for buying studios. Up to the point that people use preferential mortgages, then rent out studios, compensate for part of the mortgage payment with rent and save money by doing so.

    — From the point of view of the first housing or the purchase of some initial apartment by parents for studio children are in demand, – he says. — The budget and financial capabilities play a decisive role here. There is also a difference in price, sometimes significant, depending on when to buy — at the beginning of construction or before issuing keys. During the entire construction cycle, the price of apartments increases regularly. In addition, the cheapest apartments, if we talk about comfort class, are sold out among the first. And then the choice among inexpensive options is reduced.

    With different status

    Marina Pavlyukevich She reminded that, regardless of the real estate segment, an investor should thoughtfully assess the reliability of an asset, its liquidity, as well as profitability and payback.

    — In our IN2IT project, 65% is the share of studio rooms, — she says. — For tenants, there are hotel services, developed infrastructure and comfortable common areas, necessary services, shops, pharmacies, a restaurant and other services. Due to these advantages and professional centralized management, apartments are more expensive to rent compared to apartments in a similar location. Due to the small area, as well as the installment program, this format is available to a wide range of investors.

    — The entrance to the purchase of a studio apartment in the status of housing is an order of magnitude higher than in an apartment, – says Tatyana Khalilova. — I’ll give you an example, in our GloraX Zanevsky residential project, which is currently being prepared for delivery, apartments cost from 9 million rubles, and apartments with a fine finish and with the same delivery date can be purchased for 6 million rubles. Therefore, the client is faced with the question of how important the history of the actual residence is to him, because in the apartment you can make a temporary registration for 3-5 years and use all the same benefits as with the apartment. So, from the point of view of entering the investment, the apartments are now quite attractive.

    — If the investor has about half of the cost of the apartment, then you can take it on a mortgage, — Sergey Sofronov believes. — Even at non—preferential rates – the actual profitability of mortgage payments can cover it. In addition, the stakes are not the highest. For example, we have from 10.2% per annum. To be honest, buying a studio in an apartment building for a purely investment purpose is an outdated and not the most justified format. Service apartments of the same area will bring more money from rent per square meter. And sometimes they will also cost a little cheaper when compared with housing in the same location.

    According to him, two factors play for the studio in an apartment building: a possible residence permit and a preferential mortgage. But, firstly, it is unlikely that anyone will register tenants at home. Secondly, the basic preferential mortgage is now given once.

    — The factor of the management company plays in favor of the apartment, which will rent it out so that it brings as much income as possible both in summer (for short—term rentals) and in low season (for long-term rentals), – Sofronov clarified. — In particular, the management company of our apart-hotels, Avenir, closes the issue of demand in low season with corporate contracts with legal entities. Well, in summer it accepts tourists.

    — Apartments are inherently not residential, but commercial real estate, — Oksana Ponamorenko reminded. — Yes, they are cheaper at the purchase stage, and if you plan to make a profit from renting out real estate, this option may seem more attractive. In the long term, studios in residential complexes are a better investment, since apartments become more expensive faster than apartments, and it will be easier to sell such housing if necessary.

    — Investors prefer studios in residential complexes or apartment hotels, depending on the investment strategy, – summed up Ekaterina Nemchenko. — Service apartments offer a certain profitability, while investments in housing are more aimed at saving investments and the effect of investments in the long term. Rental income is not excluded, but this process is managed by the investor himself. It is not surprising that in St. Petersburg investors prefer service apartments, and they purchase housing for their own use, for grown-up children or as an investment to save money.

    Компактная жизнь: кто и для чего покупает квартиры-студии в Петербурге



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