Real Estate
February 25, 2024
Reading Time: 5 min

Hungary property guide: how to buy a house or apartment

Foreigners can buy houses in Hungary without restrictions — only a Land Registry permit is needed. European Union residents and citizens can apply for a mortgage, but non-residents can not.

Investing in Hungary real estate helps protect money from inflation, increase capital, and get a residence permit. To become a resident, you must buy an apartment or house for a price of €500,000.

How to buy Hungary real estate: Budapest apartments for getting residence permit
Hungary property guide: how to buy a house or apartment

Specifics of the Hungary real estate market

Hungary’s property market has low prices but is on the rise. The average price of real estate in Hungary is HUF 900,000, or about €2,360 per 1 m² as of 2024. Some other EU averages per 1 m²  to compare are €3,090 in Italy, €2,533 in Spain, and €2,465 in Portugal.

New properties in Hungary are in higher demand than historical buildings. One of the reasons for this is gas and electricity prices. The utility payment for an old-unit apartment can be twice as high as that for a new-unit apartment of the same size. On average, utilities in Hungary cost €165 per month for an 85 m² apartment.

Property owners can officially become residents. By purchasing real estate, foreigners become eligible for a residence permit through the 2024 relaunch of Hungary’s Golden Visa program.

Who can buy Hungary real estate: permissions and restrictions

Foreigners need to get an acquisition permit to buy real estate in Hungary. The documents are submitted to the Land Registry through a lawyer assisting the transaction. 

A permit is not required if a buyer is a citizen of an EU state, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland or Switzerland. 

A local real estate attorney must accompany foreigners when buying a home in Hungary. Only such attorneys have the right to assist the transaction, including drawing up a contract of sale, accepting payment, and representing the buyer's interests in the Land Registry. Foreigners cannot buy an apartment or a house without an attorney.

Mortgage on Hungary real estate: who can take it out 

Only residents of EU countries can apply for a home mortgage in Hungary. 

Mortgage loans are available for up to 70% of the property’s market value. Maturity terms are 1 to 35 years.

Interest rates on a mortgage in Hungary depend on the borrower's financial situation, the property's location, and the loan currency — that is, it will differ for dollar, euro, or forint loans.

A non-resident can buy a property using only their own funds. Homeowners have the right to obtain a Hungary residence permit.

3 pros of buying a Hungary property

1. Real estate in Hungary is a liquid asset. Each second foreigner buys real estate in Budapest to preserve and increase their capital. Quarterly prices have been rising by an average of 3.4%. A 100 m² apartment that cost €111,000 five years ago can now be sold for €206,000.

2. Property buyers can get residence permits. To do this, they need to invest at least €500,000 in residential real estate. The permit is issued for 10 years, subject to one renewal.

3. Visa-free travels. Homeowners with Hungary residence permits can enter the Schengen Area visa-free and spend up to 90 days out of 180. Entry to other European countries is subject to a simplified procedure. 

Property examples to invest in and get a Hungary residence permit 

Best Hungary areas for buying property

Budapest. Foreigners commonly buy real estate in Budapest, although the capital’s housing prices are 2—4 times higher than in the region. The average price is €2,200 per 1 m² of secondary property and €2,900 per 1 m² of new property.

In Budapest Districts I, II, V and XII, the average real estate costs are higher than in others: more than HUF 1 million, or €2,600 per 1 m². The most expensive is District II: the average residential real estate here reaches €3,200 per 1 m².

Real estate in Districts V, VI, and VII is often bought as a potential rental property because this historical part of Budapest is especially popular with tourists. However, it is important to remember that not everyone can do that. 

Properties for comfortable living are most often bought in Districts XI, XIII and XIV. Real estate prices here are lower than average, yet the districts are close to the centre and have a developed infrastructure, including parks, cycle lanes, schools, restaurants, and stores.  

Small towns and rural areas. Some foreigners prefer buying real estate in small towns and rural areas. This choice is most popular among digital nomads, foreigners who do not need to commute to the office regularly.

Residential property prices outside Budapest are usually much lower. For example, in the regional centres of Veszprém or Debrecen, they start at €1,600 per 1 m².

Average real estate prices in some Hungary cities

CityCity centre, per 1 m²Other areas, per 1 m²
Budapest€3,900 €2,500
Hévíz€3,000€2,200
Sopron€2,800€2,300
Debrecen€2,350€1,900
Veszprém€2,300€1,600
Siófok€2,300€2,250
Csorna€1,700€1,100
Source: Numbeo

How to buy Hungary property: step-by-step process

The process of purchasing a home in Hungary consists of seven essential steps, each accompanied by a local lawyer.

If a foreigner buys real estate to get a Hungary residence permit, a law company, such as Immigrant Invest, can also accompany the transaction. In this case, the applicant will get more support with the property selection, in the selection of real estate, checking the legality of the transaction, obtaining a tax number, and more.

P2M
Choosing a suitable property
Choosing a suitable property

Immigrant Invest experts select several properties on the market based on the investor’s wishes. For instance, some investors want a home next to a private school for their child or next to a stadium with jogging tracks. House viewing will be held online or offline if the investor is located in Hungary.

Signing the preliminary sale and purchase agreement
Signing the preliminary sale and purchase agreement

The document defines the purchase terms, including the price or the payment schedule. It also guarantees that neither the buyer nor the seller backs out.

At this stage, the buyer deposits 10% of the transaction value. The deposit is non-refundable. 

Getting a property acquisition permit
Getting a property acquisition permit

The lawyer on behalf of the buyer submits necessary documents to the Land Registry, including:

  • application form;
  • notarized copy of the buyer’s passport;
  • criminal record;
  • preliminary purchase and sale agreement, no older than 21 days;
  • purchase permit fee receipt — for up to €200;
  • power of attorney for the lawyer accompanying the transaction.

The obtainment period for the property acquisition permit is 2 to 4 weeks.

Buying the property
Buying the property

When the permit is received, the main purchase and sale agreement is completed, and the buyer transfers the remaining sum to the seller’s account. The contract is certified by a local notary.

Registering the property
Registering the property

To complete the transaction, investors must get the Tulajdoni Lap, a document proving their ownership. It is obtained through the lawyer in the Land Registry. This certificate of ownership is the basis for obtaining a Hungary residence permit.

Getting a tax ID number from the tax administration
Getting a tax ID number from the tax administration

It will be used for all financial transactions related to real estate, such as paying taxes and utility bills. 

The ID number is obtained at the tax office: foreigners can apply online or when visiting a Hungary National Tax and Customs Administration office. Foreign applicants need to provide their passport, proof of address in Hungary, and proof of income for foreigners, such as bank statements.

Paying property transfer tax
Paying property transfer tax

The tax is 4% of the transaction amount. The tax must be paid within 90 days following the purchase.

Potential pitfalls of purchasing real estate in Hungary

Price fluctuations. There's an expected increase in rental prices, projected to rise by 8—9% by April 2024. Construction companies will use more expensive materials for new buildings to meet new, higher energy efficiency standards, which could further increase property prices​.

However, the market will most likely stabilise after that, driven by economic recovery, increased demand, and continued foreign investment. 

Potential renovation expenses. Hungary has been increasingly popular among tourists, especially Budapest. The capital also draws people from other parts of the country with better economic opportunities. This makes local estate attractive for investors and landlords, showing the increase in rental prices. 

Yet it is important to remember that Budapest's rich historical architecture means that properties, especially those with historical significance, might be subject to stringent renovation and preservation rules. This can significantly increase one’s budget. Nevertheless, investors who seek the assistance of a lawyer will be able to take preemptive measures and choose the best property for their means.

Language barrier. The Hungarian language is known for its complexity and is significantly different from most other European languages. This language barrier can pose challenges in navigating the real estate market, understanding legal documents, and communicating with local authorities or service providers. 

Although many Hungarians speak English, transactions and official documentation may require Hungarian translation. Investing through a licensed firm that will use a power of attorney to act on the investor's behalf is advised. This helps to avoid confusion and save time.

Property taxes and maintenance expenses in Hungary

When purchasing real estate, buyers pay transfer tax and administrative fees. Additionally, they pay for the services of lawyers, notaries, and translators.

Transfer of ownership tax is charged at the 4% rate of the property value. This rule applies to transactions not exceeding HUF 1 billion, or €2.6 million. With more expensive properties, the buyer pays an additional 2% of the amount exceeding this value. The tax must be paid within 90 days of purchase.

When buying a new building property, the 27% VAT is paid, usually included in the price. The reduced 5% VAT is valid until the end of 2024.

Administrative fees include:

  • up to €200 — for a property acquisition permit;
  • €60 — a veto on real estate transactions;
  • €30 — a Land Registry fee; 
  • €22 — a certificate of property ownership.

The buyer also pays lawyer, realtor and notary fees, which usually don’t exceed 5% of the property value.

Additional expenses when buying a property are approximately 10% of the property value. For example, when buying an apartment for €175,000, the buyer will spend about €192,500, which includes taxes and fees.

Fixed expenses for property owners in Hungary include annual property tax, utility costs, and insurance.

The annual property tax amount depends on the municipality where the property is located. The maximum rate is about 3% of the property's cadastral value or about €1 per 1 m² annually.

Utility bills depend on the area of housing, the energy efficiency class of the building, and the consumption of resources such as water, gas, and electricity. Owners of apartments larger than 85 m² pay €100—230. Utility bills are paid monthly or quarterly.

Property insurance in Hungary is voluntary; however, mortgaged real estate must be insured.

Buying property in Hungary: summed up

  1. Foreigners buy real estate in Hungary to preserve and increase their capital, get a residence permit in an EU country, and travel to the Schengen Area without a visa.
  2. The Hungary residence permit can be issued to investors who buy a property worth at least €500,000. The status is given for 10 years to the investor and their family members.
  3. A local lawyer acting on the buyer's behalf must accompany a purchase and sale process in Hungary. Only a lawyer has the right to close a real estate contract, obtain a purchase acquisition permit from the Land Registry, and register the property.
  4. Additional expenses when buying a property amount to about 10% of the transaction value: taxes, administrative fees, and lawyer, notary, and translator fees.
  5. Only foreigners with a residence permit in one of the EU countries can apply for a mortgage in Hungary.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does real estate work in Hungary?

Foreigners are allowed to buy property in Hungary after getting a property acquisition permit from the Land Registry. However, a mortgage is only available to those with a residence permit status. To purchase real estate, foreigners must hire a Hungarian lawyer to accompany them through the transaction process. 

Can a foreigner buy a property in Hungary?

Yes, foreigners can buy real estate in Hungary: to do this, they choose a property, contact a local lawyer to accompany the transaction, and get a property acquisition permit.

Is Hungary a good place to buy property?

Yes, Hungary property market offers remarkable advantages. It is growing faster than the EU average, while property prices remain lower than in most EU countries. In addition, buying a property in Hungary gives foreigners the right to get a residence permit. To do this, they need to invest at least €500,000 in a finished property.

How much does it cost to buy an apartment in Hungary?

An average apartment or house on the Hungarian secondary market costs €70,000, while new buildings are twice as expensive. In Budapest, a secondary market real estate costs an average of €127,000, while a new property costs €162,000. 

What does buying an apartment in Hungary come with?

Property buyers in Hungary can get a residence permit. Purchasing an apartment or house for €500,000+ is required to do this. Real estate in Budapest has more liquidity as an asset, although the property can be located in any region of the country. 

How much do utilities cost in Hungary?

The total cost of utility bills in Hungary depends on the area, the energy efficiency class of the building and the consumption of resources — water, gas, and electricity. Owners of apartments with an area of 85 m² pay between €100 to 230.

What should I watch out for when buying a house in Hungary?

Some things to remember: 

  1. Old buildings in Budapest are in less demand than new ones because they usually come with higher utility payments and renovation expenses. 
  2. Foreigners need a property acquisition permit to buy real estate in Hungary. The permit is obtained through the Land Registry. 
  3. A local lawyer must accompany the acquisition process if a foreigner wants to buy a property. 
What do you need in order to move to Hungary?

To relocate to Hungary, one must obtain a residence permit. A tourist visa allows foreigners to stay in the country for no more than 90 days within 180 days a year only. There are 12 ways to obtain a Hungary residence permit: for example, students, foreigners with passive income, founders of companies and property owners can apply for resident status.

What is a Hungary residence permit?

Hungary residence permit allows foreigners to live in the country as long as it’s valid, travel to Schengen countries without a visa, and access medical care and European education. In addition, after three years of living in the country with a residence permit, foreigners can get permanent residence in Hungary.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for government programs in the European Union and the Caribbean.

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