What You Need to Know When Buying Property in Poland
Every country has its own unique charactaristics and Poland is no different. Below is a rough guide to some of the more unusual things which can take a foreign buyer by surprise. To find out more about whether or not you qualify to purchase polish property visit our How to Buy Polish Property and Real Estate Section.
It is crucial that you understand the property market in Poland is still strong compared to most European markets despite the current global financial crisis. Most of the demand is coming from the domestic market where wealth continues to grow and the use of mortgages becoming widespread. This means that in many areas you are not the most desireable buyer as there is more paperwork to complete if an agent or vendor wants to sell to you. The main exception to this is large mansion houses, hotels, industrial plots, etc. There has been some arrogance amoungst foreign buyers who think their dollars, pounds or euros must be like gold.
This is not the case and being polite and proving you are serious go a long way to help you secure a property that is likely to give you an excellent capital gain over the next decade.
Time Wasting Vendors
Valuation surveys are almost non-existant in Poland (although they are bound to become more common place as mortgages rise in popularity) and so in order to get some idea of the property value many people simply put in on the market and see what offers they get! For this reason you will find a number of portals with tens of thousands of properties listed and the vendor will be more than happy for you to fly into Poland and make him an offer ... so how do you tell who is genuine and who is not?
The easiest way is to avoid text only advertisments. Anyone who doesn't even want to make the effort to take a few photographs is probably not a serious seller. For this reason Mamdom only lists offers with photographs. We also charge sellers a nominal amount to list their offer which again helps ensure only serious sellers add their properties.
There are plenty of "free" portals for the idley curious. The majority of offers on Mamdom are listed by agents which is also a sign that the agent is serious. You can never guarantee a seller is serious but with Mamdom you can be more confident you will not end up wasting your time on a fruitless chase.
Agents and Offers
It is worth noting that agents have not always seen the offers that they are presenting, even in major cities. To minimise this problem Mamdom insists that images of each offer are provided but sometimes the vendor simply emails these to the agent.
It is therefore essential in your search to assume that the agent has probably not seen the property or land and much of what you are told could be simply what he has been told by the vendor. If you are considering purchasing a property without seeing it Mamdom does provide an inspection service to ensure you are clear on what you are buying.
What is included in the sale of a property?
Many foreign buyers are taken aback when they view an apartment that looks fairly normal but when they come to take posession of it find the bath, toilet, sink, kitchen and maybe even the door handles are not there. In Poland fixtures and fittings agreements during a sale are all important and they should list literally everything, bolted down or not, that you expect to find when the sale completes.
There is a logical reason for this. The top of any chain usually involves someone who has bought their own house or is moving into a new development. Most new developments are sold as shells and obviously if a person has built their own house there are no fittings. So if it works the person at the top of the chain will take his kitchen, bath, sink, maybe the door handles, plug sockets and so on.
Buyers in Poland know this and so as you go down the chain you find everyone is taking their own kitchens and bathrooms ... except you! Make sure when you are viewing a property what is included and what will cost extra.
A seller may, for example, agree to sell you the toilet, bath and bathroom sink for an extra charge or he may state that it is included but always check.
Central Heating and Hot Water
There are two types of central heating in Poland, private and town or estate heating. Private heating is your own gas or electric boiler and recognisable all over Europe.
Town or estate heating is different. In this situation the town or development will have one boiler which provides heating through a network of underground pipes direct to the radiators and hot taps of the property. This second system has a number of advantages. It is often cheaper and you don't have to have a boiler in the house with the associated reliability and maintainance issues.
Hot water is also distributed the same way in these towns or estates. This means when viewing you may see radiators and feel hot water but you cannot see or hear a boiler anywhere. This isn't strange, the boiler is just very big and 2 kilometres away!
Valuation and Structural Surveys
Getting a survey carried out in Poland is nearly impossible. This is because most Poles know (or know someone) who has building knowledge and can look a property over to make sure it is structurally sound.
For foreign buyers you may want to consider hiring a local builder to help you but you should note that unfortunately some have been known to take bribes in order to "find" problems and so their results are not often trusted by vendors. Such a survey will be for your own peace of mind but do not expect to use it as a bargaining tool with the vendor.