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PROPERTY

Property in Austria roundup: Is Austria’s real estate market ‘overheating’?

Stay up-to-date on the latest Austrian property news with The Local's weekly roundup.

Property in Austria roundup: Is Austria's real estate market 'overheating'?
Is Austria's property market overheating? Photo:HARALD SCHNEIDER / APA / AFP

Thinking of buying a house, moving house or investing? Or are you just curious about the property market in Austria? 

Here’s what you need to know.

Financial Market Stability Committee criticises Austria’s real estate boom

The Financial Market Stability Committee (FSMG) has again criticised the ongoing real estate boom in Austria, which is being fuelled by low interest rates and high competition. 

The FSMG has even asked Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) to analyse the situation for systemic risks in relation to rising property prices, with a focus on residential property financing for private households. 

The organisation was founded in 2014 and is responsible for strengthening financial market stability. The FSMG can also make recommendations to the Financial Market Authority (FMA) and provide risk warnings.

READ MORE: How to find out if you’re paying too much rent in Vienna

Back in June, the FSMG said: “These factors indicate an increasing overheating of the residential real estate market, which in the event of price corrections in the past has often led to a notable loss of prosperity in numerous countries.”

The Local recently reported that new apartment prices in Austria are the highest in Europe with a 70 square meter apartment costing an average of 10.6 times the national annual salary.

Investing in property to protect against inflation

An article in Die Presse highlights how more people are starting to invest in property as a way to protect against inflation.

The appetite for “concrete gold” is showing no signs of slowing down and rising inflation is now becoming a stronger investment motive than low interest rates.

Die Presse reports alternative investments, such as nursing homes or data centres, are also gaining in popularity.

Trends for alternative property investments tend to start in larger countries like the UK and Germany before moving to other countries.

New mobility concepts for the car-free generation

As more people become aware of climate change and others shun the cost of owning a car, city planners are now turning to new concepts for the car-free generation.

Latest figures show 47 percent of Viennese households don’t have a car and another 12 percent rarely use a car.

Within the 18 to 35 age group, being car-free is even more common with 72 percent not owning a car.

READ ALSO: Can foreigners buy property in Austria?

To cater to the new demands, the concept of a “cultural garage” has been introduced in Vienna’s Seestadt Aspern district by developer WBV-GFW.

A cultural garage is a space that is dedicated for parking but with additional uses, such as a cultural venue, restaurant, football field or bicycle workshop.

For example, the new cultural garage in Seestadt has 537 parking spaces and 2,000 square metres of space for cultural events, with plans for the Vienna Adult Education Centre to occupy the space in the autumn.

City planners are also aiming for a “modal split” in the Seestadt that will only allow for 20 percent car traffic in the future.

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PROPERTY

Where to find property in Austria for under €100k

Austria is not known for being a cheap country and property prices are higher than in some other European countries, but it's still possible to find property bargains, some for even under €100k.

Where to find property in Austria for under €100k

Property prices are rising in much of Europe, and Austria is no exception.

The graph below from the European Union’s statistical agency Eurostat shows the sharp upwards trajectory over the past few years with property price increases in Austria outpacing those in the European Union  as a whole.

And a new survey found that the average price per square metre for new apartments in Austria rose by 11 percent last year, making the country Europe’s second-most expensive market.

It’s no surprise, then, that property ownership in Austria remains low.

According to Eurostat, 55.2 percent of people owned their home in Austria in 2021 – well below the 70 percent European average. That’s the third lowest percentage in Europe after Switzerland (41.6 percent) and Germany (51.1 percent).

READ ALSO: Why do so few Austrians own their home?

So, where can we find cheap(er) homes in Austria – either properties that are move-in ready or those that could be excellent investments for those who enjoy fixer-uppers (or huge DIY projects)?

To find these gems, we used a property website that allowed us to search for real estate in the whole of Austria (instead of just a few main cities) and showed us homes with at least three rooms.

The price limit was set at €100,000 (while our colleagues in even-more-expensive Switzerland had theirs set at a much heftier CHF 500k, around €515k).

As of August 2022, we found 25 houses and 34 apartments meeting these criteria on sale.

As you might expect, many of these need (a lot of) work, but the good news is you can definitely still nab a home for under €100,000 with gorgeous views, small plots of land or lake access.

austria map
Houses below €100k are mainly in the south and east of the country. Property map from Wlllhaben.at.

What types of properties are there?
Looking at houses first (see the map above, which also shows the average purchase price across Austria’s different regions), a few things stand out:

The vast majority of the immediately liveable properties are on the tiny side – most are around the 40 square metres mark and billed as holiday homes – but many come fully furnished, a bonus if you’re working to a tight budget.

You will find bigger ones (the largest we saw was 124 square metres), but then they are likely to be complete renovation projects.

If you head for the border, you’ll get more house for your euro in southern and eastern Austria. Many of the properties we saw were in peaceful Burgenland, Austria’s least populous state.

And if you’re happy to buy just over the border in Hungary, Slovakia or even cross into Croatia, you’ll get more space – and less work – for your money.

You might think cities would be a complete no-no for snapping up bargain properties, but when we looked, we actually found a few properties a short drive from Vienna that were below our top price.

House or apartment?
When it comes to apartments, you’ll get more square metres  – we found flats within this price bracket were around 70 square metres on average – and a slightly greater choice of location for your money

READ ALSO: ‘Concrete gold’: Austria ranks as Europe’s second most expensive property market

Plus, the apartments we found were generally in much better condition – some are even newly renovated and fabulous – so you wouldn’t have so much, if any, work to do.

But there is, inevitably, a compromise: you might get a terrace or a balcony, but most won’t have a proper garden, and certainly no land or outbuildings, which many of the houses we found did have.

If you opt for an apartment over a house, you’ll usually have a slightly greater choice of location. Property map from Willhaben.at.

Even when you do find cheap properties, though, they are sometimes quite literally too good to be true. Some may require completely gutting, others may not be connected to the grid or might need costly lease renegotiations.

So, whether you go for a house or an apartment, you need to make sure you do your homework and carry out a thorough inspection first.

While renovation projects can be great investments, they’re time-consuming and can be very costly.

Before you take the huge step of purchasing, be honest with yourself about your own skill levels and how much time you have for a project – it’s easy to get caught up in the romantic idea of the end result of a gorgeous renovation – and get estimates for any work that needs to be done.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why Austria’s rising property prices are causing alarm

If you’re looking at buying somewhere to rent out, check average monthly rents for that area to be sure it’s worth you putting all the hard work in and that you’ll get a good return on your investment.

Whatever your reason for buying, check the property’s location carefully – some have poor access or no connection to basic services.

And it’s important to be mindful of extra costs, too: besides renovation costs, you’ll also have to fork out for property taxes, monthly charges, as well as any lease renewal costs and other living expenses.

These can all vary depending on the type of property and where it is.

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