OFFI Hungarian TranslatorsOFFI is the official Hungarian agency that deals with Hungarian/English translation/interpreter work.
OFFI offer voice-over services as well as written document work.
In this section I will tell you what to be aware of when viewing a property in the Hungarian countryside, as opposed to a city property, and explain why Hungarian property in general is so cheap; in the eyes of a UK citizen, but not in the eyes of a Hungarian citizen.
At the moment Hungary is still full of empty properties due to its decline in population, especially with many of its middle-aged moving to other parts of Europe to find work and therefore earn more money than the average Hungarian wage. Although many of these Hungarians send money back home to keep up mortgage payments on their parents and/or own property, as well as rent a place in Europe, there are many Hungarians who cannot work abroad and do not have Hungarian relatives to support them. Those Hungarians may fall into bad times and get their properties repossessed.
Properties are not just low priced because of the missing population and repossessed properties. Sometimes a property is cheap because it is an inherited property that cannot be maintained - Someone inherits a property, but cannot afford the inheritance tax and/or the property's monthly maintenance bills; forcing them to sell their inherited property at a cheaper, quick sale, price.
In some cases work has disappeared from a town whereby property prices have then fallen dramatically. Miskolc is such a place. It used to be a thriving industrial (mining) hub until the industry dried up, leaving around 15 Years of depression. Luckily, in 2019, it is now seems to be having a property boom period.
Many Hungarians from all over Hungary know the property realities. It wasn't too long ago (around 2007/2008) when peoples mortgages where based around the Swizz Franc, which collapsed after a year, leaving many Hungarians to lose their properties. They were persuaded to exchange (or buy) their mortgages using the Swiss Franc as it was cheaper than using (buying with) the Hungarian Forint. And even though they were told there were risks involved, the people assumed that was just a clause in their contract rather than something that could (and did) become a reality.
Because of the situations described above and other circumstances, many Hungarians know it can takes years to sell a village property in the current property market. They know they either have to play a waiting game 'for the right price' (and in the meantime pay the monthly maintenance bills until a buyer is found) or sell their property at a rock bottom price. This is a real struggle for them and something you should consider when haggling with their price. In other words, do not haggle with the price. You would already be getting the property cheaper than in the UK.
Viewing A Property - When viewing a village house in Hungary you have to appreciate that many of the properties will be owned by the older generation whereby they have not renovated the place for years, even decades, for whatever reason(s). It is for this reason alone why you should ignore the cosmetics of a village house, which can be replaced/repaired, and concentrate on its foundations and overall structure instead.
A roof can be retiled, a wall can be replastered, ugly pipes can be hidden and a fake ceiling and new lick of paint can transform a place. On the other hand: Cracked, unstable, foundations and/or structures (i.e. the walls and roof rafters) should require a surveyor's inspection; especially if the village house was built from clay around 100 years ago.
The Property's Age - If a village house was built properly whereby it is now 70 years for example, with no signs of serious problems, I would invest in it without too much worry; regardless if it was built out of clay or not. And even if it was a clay built house, of 100 years or more, I might still invest in it if the surveyor's report stated it had good foundations with solid structure.
In these cases the reality is: A village house has either been well maintained whereby not much renovation is needed, if any, or it has been neglected/run-down whereby it will need quite a lot of renovation. Sadly, a lot of the time the latter is true.
This 65 Sqm village house, built in the 1950's, is now (2019) having a £3,000 roof retiling
One tell-tale sign of the just said is a crooked/bent roof. Meaning, the owner could never afford to retile it. The brown terracotta tiles have since faded into a light orange colour with curled edges and the wooden rafters have since turned black.
The Utilities - Many village properties have gas central heating, electricity, hot water and broadband capabilities installed as standard. However, this does NOT mean every house is fitted with modern utilities. Some properties for example still have an outside toilet and use a wood or coal system for their boiler/radiator needs. These tend to be rural farmhouses. It really depends on how far away the house is from the village.
If you find the village house you are potentially going to buy is not fitted with modern utilities, you should contact the necessary utility companies and enquire what options are available for that property and what the costs will be to have those utilities fitted. In rare-ish cases you may need to get planning permission, especially if you want the existing boiler, or even a new boiler, fitted in another room. If there is no broadband, it can usually be fitted within days.
The Cost Of Renovation - With the above said: You need to consider any potential renovation costs beforehand. Not just by having a really close-up look at and around the property, but also by visiting it in the summer and winter.
Many people sell during the summer so that you cannot see the damp patches that were there in the winter. Damp patches that may have been temporary repaired or just painted over prior to the summer sale.
Do NOT Be Afraid To Ask - If you are not happy with a crooked roof for example, even though the seller has told you the roof has not leaked in twenty years, still ask to view inside the loft/attic; to inspect the tiles and woodwork. Ask when the roof was last repaired and for what reason.
Ask them for details about the roofer. Get an independent quote for the cost of a new roof and ask how long the old one is guaranteed to last for (i.e. when was it built/replaced). A good private seller will be happy for you to look around and to answer any of your questions.
The Original Blueprint - While viewing a village house, an old village house in particular, you may find extra bedrooms and/or interior walls for example not found on the original blueprint. This is quite normal (to the locals) as the older generation didn't really see the need to get planning permission because their thought was (and still is) - "It is my house. I will do what I want inside it". Planning permission to them is an unnecessary expense.
The exterior is a different story. If they wanted to build a new chicken pen, they would build it from wood; knowing planning permission would definitely be needed for a new chicken pen built from brick for example.
Ironically. If you (the potential new owner) want to review the original blueprint, perhaps to see where your garden boundaries are, that is fine. However: If you want to do things properly in terms of dividing an internal room into two for example and therefore apply for planning permission, you will be looked upon by locals as someone with two heads and/or as someone who has more money than sense.
Regardless of the above said. As the saying goes: "It is better to be safe than sorry". Meaning: Check if you would need permission to do something - Do not rely too much on what the locals would do or have done. Play safe and get yourself a surveyor. Get a local builder too, as well as a highly recommended and/or 'out-of-town' builder, to inspect the property and to give quotes. The last thing you need, come selling time years later, is to have a non-sale due to you not having planning permission for your alterations and not following the village 'rules of the land'.
Clay Properties - Although old clay houses, farm houses and barns can look romantic and quaint from the outside, on the inside their clay walls may be drying out, crumbling and/or be damp. The problems in the photo below are an example.
An old clay wall property whose wall is beginning to crumble and fall apart
Although clay walls tend to keep a room cool in the summer and warm in the summer, rainfall can cause them damp problems if the property was built on earth only - When it rains the water (rain) gets into the ground soil and travels upwards and into the clay walls, causing damp and possible foundation problems in the years to come.....not to mention health problems.
Another problem with clay properties is that many of them have small windows and thick walls (i.e. 50cm depth), which means lack of light and therefore rooms that are too dark even in the summer. In turn, higher electricity bills.
Just because property prices are much cheaper than in the UK, you have to weigh up your potential renovation costs and monthly bills thereafter (council tax, rubbish fees, etc). And if you are going to rent out your property, you need consider the overheads of running it like a business. Meaning, with the just said, you might not get your property and renovation costs back for a number of years; if at all. It is very common for expats to purchase a property in Hungary and then over-renovate it whereby years later they have trouble selling it or sell it at a loss.
Although tradesmen are cheap, you should ALWAYS make sure someone is there to look over your renovation. Two main reasons for this are 1) When nobody is there to look over them, they will more than likely take advantage and cut corners by buying cheaper materials for example. They will also put your smaller jobs off because of petrol costs and because they fit in other (bigger) jobs from other clients.
They will do your big jobs straight away because they will be earning big money, but with your smaller jobs they take the attitude "Why drive so far for such a small job". In other words, they will not be loyal to your whole renovation plan.
Self-Employed Tradesmen tend to jump from one client to the next fitting in their big jobs first before working on their smaller jobs weeks later. Meaning: You get your big jobs done within two weeks for example, but then have to wait another three or four weeks for your smaller jobs to be finished simply because they have been getting new clients/jobs while working on your big jobs. In other words, they do not finish one renovation project at once.
Why does this happen? Mainly because they do not have enough workers to carry out more than one big job at a time. This in turn happens because of the ridiculous amount of tax they would have to pay if hiring more workers. As such, you might be offered a Black Hat Workers In HungaryBlack Hat Job.