Buying Property in Hungary : Role of the real estate agent

Peter,  Friday, 8 November 2013

 

This article is part of a series of 8 articles about buying property in Hungary. The other articles in the series cover the following topics:


Hungary is no different than any other country when it comes to real estate agents. Mistrust towards agents of any kind is a wide-spread notion but in the era of service industry it may be a wise choice to turn to an expert when it comes to buying property. A short guide will give some handy tips to make the right pick.

The first important thing is that real estate agents are abundant in Hungary. From small family run offices to franchise networks it is possible to find and agent of your liking. The real estate market was booming in the early 90’s with the privatization of state property and therefore the profession had fertile grounds to expand. In only 20 years, agents caught up with the latest trends and ideas in the industry so you can save time and use their knowledge when buying property in Hungary.

Just like in many other cases, Budapest is the heart of the country and it is also true when dealing with real estate agents. Unless you have a specific idea of buying property in the countryside or in a village, the best way to start your search for an agent is to contact someone based in Budapest. A simple internet search will give you a lot of options to choose from.

As a foreigner, probably the most important issue would be the language barrier. Agents from small offices may not be able to help you since most of them serve the internal market and used to selling recreational property. In the past years the number of foreign customers and investors in real estate has grown considerably and the demand for skilled agents had to be met. Emerging firms and international franchises may seem like a good choice. They have specialized agents who speak foreign languages (sometimes not only English but German, Italian, French) and they have a headquarters and a support line should you need any further assistance. Though bear in mind that professional service comes at a hefty price.

Customers who have something special in mind like a penthouse in the middle of Budapest or a cottage overlooking Lake Balaton should consider choosing an agent specialized in these matters. As the market is changing and trends shift from ordinary to unique real estate agents are keeping up with the pace.

In practice the real estate agent acts as a mediator between buyer and seller and in Hungary, also between relevant public administration authorities. For EU citizens there is no need for any particular document to buy property, but residents of other countries have to obtain a permit by a local authority. The real estate agent can help in this process since it can be time consuming and may require a personal presence. Keep in mind that all real estate transactions in Hungary have to be countersigned by a lawyer in a form of private contract. The agent can assist you in the process but legal assistance can’t be subsidized.

Just like in the rest of the world, real estate agents gather a portfolio of available properties for rent and sale and present it to potential buyers. It is highly recommended to check the website of relevant agents and gather information first hand. In most cases a specific agent is assigned to deal with the real estate in question so it is easy to get in touch with your personal assistant.

Cost can also be a crucial matter when choosing an agent. In general a real estate agent’s fee is between 3-5% of property value plus VAT, which is 27% at the moment. As mentioned before, some small offices charge less but may have insufficient experience to deal with foreigners. Professional agents charge to the other end of the price margin.

A short checklist below summarizes the characteristics of a good agent:
  • The agent or the company has a registered office somewhere in Hungary and has a company ID that is visible on the website.
  • Has an available contact where he/she can be reached. It is highly recommended to establish a working relationship with the agent before starting any business.
  • Has professional education in real-estate business.
  • Speaks fluent English or another foreign language.
  • Make sure that the agent has a good knowledge of the property he/she is selling. Asking questions regarding the environment, location, technical details, energy certificate (if available) of the property in question can reveal a lot. Double check the information given by the agent through a simple online search or asking several agents about the same location and price.
  • Expect the agent to call you back within 1-2 working days upon contact. Otherwise he/she is not motivated to help you or has nothing to offer.
  • Upon personal contact and inspection of the property look for possible damages, pay attention to the condition of utilities and the overall structure of the building. A good agent will reveal all the risks involved with the purchase of the property.
  • Always consult a legal advisor before entering into a contract of any kind.



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