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Weak forint gets Balaton market moving


South Balaton Wine House-  from Napi Gazdaság, (The Economic Daily) 15th April 2009.



This Easter it wasn’t just staff at Balaton hotels but many estate agents who worked longer shifts. The weak forint has given a boost to the struggling lakeside real estate market and a significant number of buyers are Hungarians who had recently been investing in Euros.

The most attractive focuses for sales are Siófok, Balatonfüred, Tihany and the western Balaton region, including Keszthely and Hévíz, where practically the whole shore’s property market has livened up according to experts’ statements. In recent weeks and even recent days states Mr. Lehel Csákvári, Managing Director of a local agency operating several branches on the south shore, business is seeing a heyday. Compared with spring last year there are four times as many enquiries and a greater proportion of people making deals.

According to Csákvári many estate agents, in view of the lamentable situation, placed advertisements in the German and Austrian media in February.  It appears that this turned out to be a good move as the news spread through the whole of Western Europe that cheap property is available at Lake Balaton. Along with the weak forint, the market has been affected by a mass of reasonably priced summer homes, flats and family houses being put on the market in the past six months.

On the south shore the biggest choice is in the Siófok area, but if you are after something truly cheap then it’s worth a look further along the rest of the south shore between Balatonföldvár and Balatonberény. According to professionals, a smaller house in need of renovation, near the shore can be had for 10 million HUF (~33 000 EUR). For double that price you could get a 100 square metre (1000 sqft) house, built in the last ten years, on a nicely landscaped plot. According to Mr. Tamás Jobban, sales director of Austrian owned agencies operating at Balatonkenes, Balatonfüred and Badacsony, this is the first year since their company started that all their staff were queuing up to work extended shifts this Easter.

According to industry statistics, in the past week or so, one in four enquiries has resulted in a purchase. Alongside the foreign, mainly German and Austrian buyers, the majority of the remainder have been Hungarians who likewise want to buy property with Euros. According to Jobban, compared with spring last year, the market could run 35% cheaper regardless of the type of property.

Already there are high standard, new build, air conditioned flats on the market by the dozen. These are going for 300 thousand forints / sq.m. (1 000 EUR / sq.m.) (83 GBP / sqft), whereas not so long ago they were priced closer to 400 thousand forints / sq.m. According to experts, there is a considerable demand for smaller houses for renovation in peaceful spots, along with vineyards and wine cellars, but most of those at a preferable price have already found new owners. Even the market for industrial and business property has perked up. The supply is increasing; however the auction prices are too.

Principally the forint has given a boost to the market, says Mr László Sormási, business manager of an agency in Keszthely. According to Sormási, at the same time as the sales boom has affected the West Balaton market by around 35%, the rest of the sellers are holding out for relatively high prices, willing to drop by a maximum of 5 to 8%.


Original article in Hungarian: