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Housing in Hungary

The most popular and the only real area for the expatriate community is Budapest. Budapest is divided into Buda and Pest by the river Danube. Pest is the more popular area for night life while Buda is the more residential area with its hills.

The availability of houses depends again on the region. The Eastern regions are a little cheaper than the capital. However, in Budapest there is a wide variety of houses and apartments available. You can decide to live in the very heart of the city or in the suburbs, in a house or in an apartment. Most expatriates rent their houses or apartments, some buy their homes. Both options are available and will be looked at with you but mainly depend on your company policy, income and the length of your stay.

Cost of housing varies from area to area and the size of the house or apartment. The local currency is Hungarian Forint (HUF).

Buying a Property

Hungarian property prices – especially in Budapest – have risen rapidly over the last few years. With the country’s entry into the European Union, many foreigners have made investments in property in Hungary.

The vast majority of property in Hungary is privately owned and there is a wide range of different types of freehold property available. The property market is flourishing in Hungary and prices continue to rise. Construction is also booming. There is particularly high demand for property in Budapest. Another area attracting a lot of interest is Balaton and the surrounding area (a popular holiday resort for both foreigners and Hungarians).

Over the last few years, apartments in traditional buildings from the early 1900s in Budapest have been appreciating at 20-35% per annum. Much of the interest in property in Budapest is that prices are at a much lower level when compared to other European cities. This is attracting an increasing number of foreign investors.

Foreign nationals are entitled to buy property in Hungary, but must apply to the nearest Metropolitan or County Administrative Office for authorisation (a fee of HUF 50,000 is payable).

Individual buyers are limited to the purchase of one property, unless they first register as a Hungarian company. The advantage of forming a limited company, which might just be between a husband and wife, is that a lower tax rate of 16% is payable on selling the property, compared with the 20% payable by a private individual.

Average prices for new property in Pest are between HUF 270,000 and HUF 320,000, considerably more in Buda, while in a small town similar properties are available for around HUF 150,000 per square metre. Older properties are available at lower cost but are often in poor condition.

When buying property in Hungary you will need to appoint a Hungarian lawyer to conduct legal checks on the property on your behalf and to handle the financial transaction. A deposit of 10% of the purchase price is normally payable to the seller on signing the purchase contract, at which stage your name is included on the title sheet as confirmation of your intention to buy. When the outstanding balance is paid you will be registered on the title sheet as the exclusive owner of the property. Legal fees and stamp duty usually amount to around 10% of the purchase price. Hungarian banks provide mortgage facilities for foreign buyers of up to 70% of the purchase price, repayable over a maximum of 20 years.

Renting a Property

Most expatriates live in Budapest. Here it is possible to rent apartments, townhouses and family homes, although there is a shortage of short-term rental properties. Rental prices are relatively cheap compared with other European countries, but vary considerably between different parts of the city, and are rising steadily. It is reported that properties can be rented for anything between HUF 15,000 ($75) and HUF 200,000 ($1000) per month, excluding utilities.

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