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Austria’s changing property market: What buyers want in 2021

A lot has changed after more than a year of coronavirus restrictions in Austria - and the property market is no different.

Austria’s changing property market: What buyers want in 2021
Photo: Picture Alliance/DPA

Since the first lockdown ended last spring, real estate agents have reported a boom in sales and enquiries as people crave more space and a change of scene.

This means what buyers are looking for has changed since pre-pandemic times, with inner city living not as attractive as it once was.

READ MORE: How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted Vienna’s property market?

In fact, a report by Otto Immobilien shows transactions in apartment building sales fell slightly in Vienna last year, after strong performances in 2018 and 2019.

But demand for individual properties in the capital with a balcony or access to nearby outdoor space has increased – a pattern that is being repeated in cities around the world.

Then there are fears circulating of a Euro crash with reports of more people turning to investing in property as a way to safeguard their money for the future.

The result is some properties and locations are no longer ticking the right boxes for life during a pandemic, while others are in high demand.

More space and access to the outdoors

With all aspects of life mostly taking place in our homes over the past year, many people have decided that living in a small city centre apartment is not sustainable anymore.

READ MORE: Ten tips for finding an apartment in Austria

Peter Marschall, CEO of Marschall Real Estate, told The Local in January that more buyers are searching for properties with terraces and gardens.

“After the lockdown, many people realised it’s not nice to stay at home for weeks without outside space,” he said. 

Otto Immobilien has reported on this trend with agents in Vienna describing high demand for properties close to Danube Island (Donauinsel) and other city parks – particularly amongst millennials.

Experts also labelled the 12th District where “urbanity meets recreation” as an area of the capital with potential.

The bottom line is buyers now want more space and access to the outdoors after a year of lockdowns. Especially people looking for a new home in a city.

Location, location, location

A key trend that has emerged in the past year is high demand for property in the Alps and lakes regions of Austria.

But Maizie Delaney Baird, Property Consultant at mountain property specialists Lindforth, told The Local that buyer expectations are changing as the pandemic continues.

READ MORE: Where have housing prices risen in Austria during the pandemic?

“There is a trend at the moment of buyers looking for detached chalets and seeking a bit more privacy and space than before,” she said.

“I think people’s priorities have shifted in light of the pandemic, and some clients who might have otherwise kept their money in the bank have decided to pursue a lifestyle investment instead.”

Earlier this year, Marschall, from Marschall Real Estate, told The Local that German buyers have been flocking to Kitzbühel because it’s close to Munich, and there is a similar situation in the lake areas of Carinthia and Salzburg.

“People want to own a second home in a nice area,” he said.

“The crisis has highlighted these areas to international buyers more than Vienna.” 

The downside? These areas are not cheap and are actually completely out of reach for most people.

Instead, south Burgenland and some northern parts in Lower Austria are the cheapest places in Austria for property, as reported by The Local in March. 

For buyers looking for a bargain, these areas could become affordable alternatives. Particularly as remote work continues and some popular locations from pre-pandemic times become less desirable.

Functional homes for remote work 

The past year has been a global experiment in remote work and many companies are now planning to keep it. Or at least offer flexible working to their staff.

This means expensive inner city living is no longer necessary for a lot of workers and real estate agents are reporting high levels of interest in the surrounding areas of Vienna – especially in locations that are well connected to the capital by train.

The rise of remote work also means people are searching for more functional homes, with Otto Immobilien reporting “intense demand” for properties with additional spaces to be used for work.

Similarly, the Home Report 2021 by Oona Horx-Strathern predicts a move away from open-plan spaces as people carve out dedicated work areas in their home to separate personal and professional lives.

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Austria’s beaches ‘second cleanest in Europe’

Bathing waters at more than four out of five beaches in the European Union are of "excellent" quality, with Cyprus, Austria and Greece topping a European Environment Agency list published on Tuesday.

Austria's beaches 'second cleanest in Europe'
A man carries a paddle board on the dock of a hotel in Grundlsee. Photo: BARBARA GINDL / APA / AFP

A total of 82.8 percent of the 22,276 bathing sites studied across Europe in 2020 had “excellent” water quality, while 92.6 percent met the minimum standard, “sufficient”.

These figures are about two percentage points below those for 2019, the EEA said, attributing it to a greater number of beaches where no data was collected last year due to the pandemic.

The lack of data mainly affected Poland and Britain, which is still included in the report for 2020 despite Brexit.

Water quality continues to improve in Europe, with only 1.3 percent of sites reporting “poor” water quality, compared to 1.4 percent in 2019 and almost 2 percent in 2013.

READ MORE: Austrians world’s best at baring all on the beach

Under EU rules, bathing water sites that have been classified as “poor” for five consecutive years are slapped with a permanent ban.

Cyprus was the only country to register a perfect score in the 2020 standings, with 100 percent of its bathing sites boasting “excellent” water quality, ahead of Austria (97.7 pct), Greece (97.1 pct), Malta (96.6 pct) and Croatia (95.1 pct).

They were followed by Germany (89.9 pct), Italy (88.6 pct), Spain (88.5 pct), Belgium (79.7 pct) and France (77.5 pct).

Around two-thirds of bathing sites in the EU are located along sea coasts, which are generally cleaner, and one third are located inland.

According to the EEA, the percentage of European bathing waters achieving at least “sufficient” quality increased from just 74 percent in 1991 to over 95 percent in 2003, and has remained relatively stable since then.

The number of bathing sites in the European Union has nearly quadrupled in the past 30 years due to the expansion of the EU and the growth of the tourism and leisure industry.