Buying property in Hungary - Which four questions should I address?
The essential questions are:
- Private search or broker?
- How do I recognize a reputable broker?
- Can I buy as much land as I want?
- Which administrative steps have to be taken into account when buying a property?
Since everyone has different preferences and risk profiles, the following explanations can only provide food for thought. Where clear answers are possible within the framework of the legal situation or administrative requirements, the essential parameters are discussed.
Basically, you can buy a property privately or through a broker.
Potential buyers get well-intentioned advice in many forums to look around the street or to buy privately via websites. In principle, this is also feasible and possible.
In some places you will see signs on the houses with 'Eladó' and a phone number. This is supposedly the easiest way to buy an object. Often these are houses at the lower end of the quality spectrum. Hidden in the supposed bargains, where one only wants to modernize something quickly with manual work, are all too often various invisible defects (electrics, water, sewage, substance quality) that later turn the property into a larger investment. This is especially true if you start from Swiss or German standards.
As a foreigner in the country, mostly without language skills, a private purchase process can quickly turn into a fiasco.
The second way would be to buy through a broker. Here, too, caution is advised. Not every broker acts in the best interests of buyers AND sellers. Basically, it is common in Hungary for the seller to pay the broker's commission. However, it is not forbidden by law to demand commissions from buyers, as do some brokers.
A reputable broker will always process contracts through a lawyer in the national language and buyer's language, have the land register excerpts checked by the lawyer before the purchase and, if desired, process the payment flows via a lawyer's blocked account. The lawyer works as a neutral function for buyers and sellers and also takes care of the entry in the land register.
With good brokers it is part of the free service for the buyer to help with the re-registration of the utility company, with insurance contracts and the first personal registrations.
It does not matter whether the broker is a Hungarian company, a German or a Swiss company such as ungarn-immobilien.ch. In some cases, partner networks also work together extremely seriously on an international level.
3) Are there any restrictions on land acquisition?
Foreigners are subject to certain restrictions when purchasing real estate. Areas that are entered in the land register as agricultural areas (farm land, vineyards and orchards, gardens, meadows, pastures, reeds, forests or afforested areas) can only be acquired by EU members who are farmers up to an area of 300 ha or have continuously carried out an agricultural or forestry activity in Hungary for a period of 3 years. In addition, the right of first refusal of the state or resident farmers must be observed.
As a non-farmer, the acquisition of property rights to land, including land already owned, is only allowed up to an area size of 1ha, with the exception of close relatives. As a rule, the area restriction does not apply to urban areas if these are not designated as agricultural areas. It is possible to purchase a plot of several hectares with several people. For example, it would be possible for a family of three to acquire one hectare for each family member and thus acquire 3 hectares in total.
4) What administrative steps have to be taken into account when buying a property?
On the day the contract is signed, have the lawyer electronically retrieve the excerpt from the land register again and make sure that there are no entries or encumbrances on the property.
After the contract has been signed, the lawyer has a note entered in the land register, so from this point in time nothing can be entered in the land register without the consent of the buyer. The application for entry in the land register must be made within 30 days. If you are not yet resident in Hungary, the lawyer can also act as an authorized recipient.
A capital transfer tax is due on the purchase of a property, which is determined by the tax and customs office and can amount to up to 4%. Depending on the municipality, a property tax has to be paid annually. Some communities do without it.
When the contract is concluded, a deposit of 10-20% of the value is usually paid, which is offset against the total purchase price. If the contract fails with the buyer at fault, the seller receives the sum. If the contract fails with the seller at fault, the seller is obliged to pay double the amount. It is advisable to deposit the remaining amount in a lawyer's blocked account until the marginal note is entered in the land register. As soon as the marginal note has been made, the remaining amount is released, as the entry in the land register can only be made with full payment.
It is also advisable for the buyer to contractually stipulate a handover date for the property and to agree to a penalty payment per day or week for any delays. Often, as seen, it is bought that way. Make sure that furnishings that were agreed to be sold during the tour are also listed in the contract. It is not uncommon for sellers to clear out facilities between the conclusion of the contract and the handover.
The legal fees are usually 0.5-3% of the purchase price plus 27% VAT, depending on the agreement with the lawyer.
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