House Hunting in Hungary: A Modern Mash-up for $895,000

Hungary, the landlocked Central European nation of hills and plains with about 10 million residents, saw home prices double in the decade between 2010 and the first quarter of 2021, with only two other European Union countries (Estonia and Luxembourg) outpacing it in that growth, according to Eurostat, using data from the Hungarian Central Statistical Office.

“In Budapest, it was an even bigger increase,” said Gabor Borbely, director and head of business development and research at the CBRE brokerage, in Budapest. “That’s coming, obviously, from a much lower basis, so Hungary is among the cheapest markets in the European Union. If you compare Budapest to Prague or Warsaw — which are similar size, similar purchase power, similar geography — the residential prices are still much lower. In some instances, it’s 40 to 50 percent cheaper to buy in Budapest than in Prague.”

The global pandemic, which is currently largely under control in Hungary after peaking in late 2020 and again this past spring, halted that decade-long price surge in Budapest. Home prices fell a couple of percentage points in 2020 before rebounding earlier this year to their 2019 levels, Mr. Borbely said.

Budapest’s residential market was hit harder by the pandemic than the rest of Hungary, with international buyers disappearing and domestic buyers moving away. As in other countries, many residents decided to buy homes in regions outside of the capital, particularly in resort areas, brokers said.

“Potential buyers are increasingly open to considering properties in the outskirts of bigger cities or those located in the country,” said Karoly Benedikt, the head of marketing, public relations and analysis at Budapest-based agency Duna House.

The changes in consumer behavior have driven up home prices by 10 to 20 percent in some areas outside of Budapest, and even more at Lake Balaton, a 48-mile-long freshwater lake about 50 miles west of Budapest, Mr. Borbely said: “Definitely, the gap between the capital city and the regional markets is narrowing, which is something really unique we haven’t seen for the last two decades.”

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