House Hunting in … Hungary



A Five-Bedroom Villa in Budapest


This five-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom home is in the residential second district of Budapest, Hungary’s capital, on the western side of the Danube River, which bisects the city.

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The 4,090-square-foot house, which was completed in 2017, has an alarm system and various smart features, including heating and air-conditioning. It also has a generous lot of 13,175 square feet — which includes a terrace with areas for dining and lounging, an outdoor pizza oven, a pool and a sauna — making it an ideal place for holding large parties, said Zoltan Mezo, the general manager of At Home Network, the agency that has the listing.

The main entrance opens into a large, double-height living-and-dining area. One wall has built-in, distressed-wood shelving arranged in a playful pattern; on the opposite side, sliding doors lead out to the backyard. A fireplace is tucked into a stone wall separating the living room and kitchen.

Next to the dining room is an en suite bedroom, currently used as the master suite. There is a smaller bedroom and an adjacent half bathroom off the kitchen.

A staircase near the entrance leads upstairs, where there are three additional bedrooms and a bathroom. A mezzanine hallway with built-in bookshelves overlooks the living room and connects the bedrooms.

The basement has a two-car garage, a wine cellar, a gym and a laundry room.

The surrounding neighborhood is popular with families, Mr. Mezo said, as there are parks and two international schools nearby. The house is about seven miles from downtown Budapest and about 20 miles from Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport.

Market Overview

Budapest’s luxury housing stock has increased in quantity and quality in recent years, said Chris Clarke, a founder of the real estate agency Clarke & White, and is “becoming on par” with that of other European cities.

Historically, many of the luxury offerings were older renovated apartments and villas, Mr. Clarke said, but new high-end developments often have large terraces, smart home features and views of the Danube.

The market reflects the changing city, which has a population of almost 1.8 million. In the central fifth district, which Mr. Clarke said is popular with foreign investors, the price per square meter of new apartments has tripled since 2015, reaching 1.5 to 2.5 million forints (or about $500 to $850 a square foot) at the high end. That is expensive for Budapest, he said, but still far cheaper than luxury property in Paris or London. (There is no central real estate database in Hungary, so all figures are based on anecdotal information or data compiled by individual agencies.)

Andras Cornides, a sales manager with the real estate agency Tower International, said prices in Budapest’s desirable neighborhoods are about double what they were four or five years ago, and have grown around 15 to 20 percent a year over the past two or three years.

Kornelia Pasztor, the Hungary branch manager of the international luxury real estate agency Engel & Völkers, said the most desirable of Budapest’s 23 districts are the first, second, fifth, 12th and the riverfront portion of the 13th. The first district, home to Buda Castle, is highly coveted and has almost no residential offerings; the sprawling, hilly second and 12th districts have luxurious villas; the fifth district, until recently a commercial hub, is home to infill projects and now has the city’s highest real estate prices.

Agents said prices have been growing for several reasons: Hungarians have more personal wealth and are no longer delaying home purchases as they did during the global recession, and low bank savings rates are making real estate investment attractive by comparison. Also, foreigners have been investing, particularly in rental (and short-term rental) properties, and a government initiative lowered the sales tax on certain new apartments to 5 percent, from 27 percent, through the end of 2019.

Who Buys in Budapest

Mr. Mezo said about half of his agency’s luxury buyers over the past year were from foreign countries, including Israel, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Spain, Italy and, most of all, China.

Ms. Pasztor said foreign buyers made up nearly the same amount of her agency’s business — about 40 percent — and most were from China, Germany, Austria, France and the United States.

Buying Basics

Buyers from outside the European Union must get permission from the government to buy residential property in Hungary, said Gabriella Galik, a founding partner of Budapest law firm KCG Partners. Permission is usually easily obtained; the fee is around $185, and the process can take up to two months.

Transactions are typically handled by a lawyer, and the fee is normally no more than 1 percent of the purchase price. Closing costs also include a land registration fee of around $25, a property transfer tax of 4 percent of the purchase price and, when applicable, mortgage costs, which are set by the bank. Although the price of this particular listing is given in euros, most real estate transactions in Hungary are done in forints.

Buyers of new homes pay a value-added sales tax of 5 or 27 percent, depending on various factors, including the size of the property, Ms. Galik said.


Languages and Currency

Hungarian; forint (1 forint = $.004)

Taxes and Fees

There is no property tax on this villa, Mr. Mezo said.


Zoltan Mezo, At Home Budapest Network, 011-36-1-880-2767;

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