A leading Dublin property consultant has assembled a group of investors to buy holiday and investor properties at distressed prices from hundreds of Irish owners in Budapest.
Stephen Conway, a consultant with Colliers, said that his own company – Stephen Conway Ltd in Stillorgan – would buy from many Irish sellers planning to sell and seeking to avoid the expense of dealing with estate agents in the Hungarian capital.
He calculated that Irish people owned as many as 3,500 apartments and property sites in Budapest.
"That's an extraordinary large number," he said. "Investors have come to me and said there are so many people who are willing to sell. Basically, if they come straight to me I would value it. The investors would then decide whether to buy."
He said he could not say the size of the writedowns on the purchase prices Irish owners could expect from his group of investors.
Conway, who in the past has worked on deals Budapest, estimated that Irish apartment purchasers who bought in Hungary before 2003 may still have "got good value", paying up to €1,000 per sq metre. Prices soared as high as €4,000 per sq metre before the recent property and economic crisis that enveloped the country last year.
"There were of course three prices – one for the locals, one for the foreigners, and the highest one for Irish buyers," Conway said. Exceptional apartments overlooking Budapest's best squares can still sell for about €3,000 per sq metre, though prices even in some upmarket districts are now getting expensive at over €1,500 per sq metre, he said.
Despite the collapse in the local property market, Conway said Hungarian property agents were still charging foreigners as much as 8% commission to sell their properties.