Does the Latvian economy want overseas investment or not. I want to buy a house, the seller wants to sell her house. But the level of bureaucracy, inefficiency and incompetence in the system is astounding. Let me give you a list of what we had to do this week. Pleae bare in mind that I was also meant to be at school this week sorting computers out:-
- Monday – Rest day – well it was meant to be. I had to go to the CSDD (DVLA IN THE UK) to get my new car I had delivered from Germany registered and have a technical inspection. This all went well and only took just over 2 hours.
- Tuesday – Visited SWEDBank in Riga to open a Darījuma Kontu. This is is a special bank account which is opened to hold the money for the payment of the house we are buying. Once our names are on the land register then the bank takes it’s part to pay off any outstanding mortgages/loans and transfers the balance to the seller of the house. We then visited our bank SEB and tried to transfer the money for the house to the Darījuma Kontu.Unfortunately the bank don’t trust you to spend your money wisely and you have to be able to prove what you are spending your money on. Despite having the documents regarding the Darījuma Kontu. with us, these weren’t deemed sufficient: we needed the contract regarding the sale of the house. Needless to say we didn’t have these. However the gentleman in SWEDBank was very helpful and told us that if we could get the contracts then we could go to SEB bank in the ALPHA shopping centre on the outskirts of Riga which was open until 9.00 pm. So after a few phone calls and armed with the necessary contracts we arrived at SEB only to be told that because they were only a small branch they couldn’t handle a transaction so large. My blood was starting to boil.
- Wednesday – Armed with the contracts we went to our branch of SEB, all the staff there now know us very well. We were attended to by a very nice lady who speaks excellent English, as she had lived in Ireland for 7 years.. She joked that because of the extremely large number of contracts, and there were a lot, this seemed like the sale of the century. Transfer of funds successfully made we had to wait until we had notification that they had arrived at SWEDBank before heading to Riga to meet a notaire (lawyer) who, for a fee, would check that all the contracts were legally ok before we headed off to the Land Registry. Arriving at the notaries we were told because she was busy she could only validate the Darījuma Kontu. We now urgently had to find another notaire who could validate the house sale contracts. Fortunately the seller of the house found somebody who could see us 2.00 pm the following day. By this time I am unhappy to say the least.
- Thursday – Armed with a wallet full of money we arrived at the notaire’s office hopeful that we could finish quickly enough and get to Limbazu (75 km away) before they closed at 5.00pm. Job done, we got to the car just before the heaviest thunderstorm for a long time and Riga ground to a halt. So did we.
- Friday – Alarm at 6.00 am, in the car by 7.00 am arriving at Limbazi at 8.40 am. First in the queue and finished by 9.30 am. SUCCESS !!! We move on 30th June.
I have tried to rationalise this apparent lack of trust Latvians display to towards strangers, and let me stress that it only applies to strangers. Nobody smiles at strangers in the street, not even eye contact is made if it can be avoided and the big banks obviously don’t trust each other. I have come to the conclusion that this is a legacy from the soviet occupation when nobody knew whom to trust in case they were or were being paid by the KGB to spy on people. As behavioural habits are learnt from parents, even young people behave this way. I think there is a wonderful opportunity for some enterprising young Latvian to start a campaign to change the Latvian persona. We could call it “Keep calm and smile at a stranger”. I would do it myself but I don’t think some Brit telling Latvians how to behave would go down to well