The article is entitled In Bucharest, a Flourishing Housing Market, published in October ’07, but still particularly relevant for the Bucharest period property market. NYT journalist Jon Gorvett reports on the experiences of American expatriates living in the city:
Leslie Hawke, mother of Ethan Hawke, the actor, is one such resident. She moved here seven years ago and now lives in a rooftop apartment on the city’s main street, Calea Victoria.
It’s Bucharest’s Fifth Avenue,” she said, looking down from her 45-square-meter (485-square-foot) terrace, which curves around her apartment. “It has all the major department stores and museums, palaces and squares.”
He also mentions the heterogeneous architecture of the city in which prime place is taken by French 19th century urban styles that imprint Bucharest the well known character of “Little Paris”:
Spreading out below her apartment is the eclectic jumble of downtown. And across the rooftops are the onion domes of a Russian church rising above 19th-century French-style apartment buildings. This is Europe’s sixth-largest city, with a population of 1.9 million.
Ms. Hawke’s 1930s-era apartment has 95 square meters (over 1,000 square feet) of living space, with a large living room, kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom, and is just a few minutes’ walk from her office.
The acute lack of period property specialists in Romania is a concern for the American expatriates, having to find unconventional ways to obtain the necessary information and contacts:
“I bought a little place out in the countryside recently and, to get that, I first asked a guy in a local shop, who took me to the local priest, who took me to the mayor, and while I was there a guy came by wanting to buy some wine off the mayor and said he had a place for sale. It’s not quite that extreme in Bucharest, but it always helps to network.”
The renovation/ restoration of a period property is also an area that needs attention from the prospective overseas buyer, requiring good contacts and access to specialists that are in short supply:
Restoring a property also can be a challenge, as Romanian workers have been heading to other European Union countries in search of higher wages, creating a shortage of skilled workers. Yet “all the big home-improvement stores are here,” Mr. Raftopol said. “The materials cost what they would in the U.S., but the labor is much less.” The restoration of his apartment cost 20 to 25 percent less than what it would have in America, he said.
And the article finishes with an inspired characterization of the city:
Bucharest has appeal but it is definitely for someone who likes a challenge. “It is a city still figuring out what it wants to be,” Mr. Raftopol said. “It’s not the sort of place you come because everything is already fixed up and done; you come here because it’s not like that. Instead, the potential is still there for it to become something else – something really different.”
In conclusion, the article amply shows that the Romanian period property market is not so insurmountable as it frequently looks, but requires patience, adequate information and the right qualified contacts on the ground.
If you are interested in acquiring a period property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be very glad to assist with locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions or the renovation project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the “Contact” page of this weblog.