Buying apartment in a run down building

Hi everyone,

I'm looking to buy an apartment in the VIII district - in Joszefvaros. I have found a place I absolutely love - but there is one hitch. While the apartment itself is exactly what I want, the building it is in is in a really bad state of repair.

The building looks to be from about 1890-1900, and there are huge areas where plaster has fully crumbled away and the underlying bricks and mortar are decaying.  It is especially bad around the street-facing windows of 'my' place - and also around the roof.

My question is around how these kinds of repairs eventually get dealt with. The estate agent explained that the building just selected a new managing agent as the previous one was useless and did nothing - but of course if I buy, I am worried about getting a huge bill as the new management finally try and get a handle on the state of decay and neglect.

My understanding is that the building has built up some savings from the common costs paid over the years, and the building still has many Hungarians (rather than just being an airbnb dormitory) in it, which means footing a huge bill all at once would be hard for them as well.

What can I expect to happen and how much might this cost? How also can I ensure that my home doesn't get damaged if the repairs don't happen soon and things like water damage starts to occur due to all the structural decay?

Does anyone have any knowledge or advice in this area? I am sorry if this has been asked before but I couldn't find anything.

Thanks in advance,
Jennifer

jellylemon :

The estate agent explained

Don't believe anything such say. They just want their commission. The will say anything to make a sale.

jellylemon :

What can I expect to happen and how much might this cost?

I have a hole in my yard. How much will it cost to fill it? See the problem? You are asking a question no one can answer without knowing exactly what amount of work is needed (i.e. the size of hole to fill).

jellylemon :

How also can I ensure that my home doesn't get damaged if the repairs don't happen soon and things like water damage starts to occur due to all the structural decay?

You can't. Period. If fact, expect damage from one reason or the other. For example, someone I know with an apartment constantly gets water damage from the apartment upstairs. And this after building "renovations". The pipes are crap. When will the pipes be replaced? Probably when they tear down the building and rebuild it.

Costs for building repairs comes out of the monthly common costs that are paid to the house.
If they do a large repair then expect your common costs to go up.
These buildings are all old, we had lots of new plaster and paint done in the common areas inside the building. This was just a couple years ago and it could use another spiffing up here and there now.
Our house looked to be in the best shape outside when we bought 13 years ago, now it doesn't look as fresh outside since most every other house on the block has been done over with sand blasting or fresh paint.There is no plaster  missing or holes in the building, the staircase is in good shape etc. If it looks sound then maybe it is but if you already see problems then that's not a good sign. Even so it is still old.
Don't forget the money has to come from somewhere and if as you say it looks to be that the other residents don't have money to pay for these repairs then it could be another decade before they are done.
I have no idea how much is charged to repairs but I know the so-so minor painting and new plaster here and there inside they yard in our building costs like 10 million forints. Don't believe it cost that much but then again who ever is holding the purse strings may be dipping into the till .
All of our neighbors have redone their flats, that was our plan when we bought but since then we realize it is like putting lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig... 120 years old, something is going to give sooner or later.
I was caught up in how "romantic" these old buildings are when we bought but if I had a redo, I'd buy in a newer house. These old flats have odd useless shapes inside and the new ones are more practical with use of space.Almost all of these flat used to be part of one large family home. Many rooms were just willy-nilly chopped up and not practical for today's useage. Only thing I like about these old buildings is the high celings and double wide doors.
If you have any doubts now, then walk away and keep on looking.
Another thing is you can ask to see how the last house meeting went. They vote on what they will be doing in the house the upcoming year.Should  have it in writing that they actually are going to repair the building . They do raise the common cost fees every year after the vote, but perhaps not enough to pay for a facelift.
Our building I know would cost a ton because it is a corner building with 3 sides facing the st. most have one or two sides only.
Many things to consider before buying.

Thank you very much for this. I have asked for copies of the budget for this year and what it will be spent on, minutes of the last meeting, details of how much the building has in savings and what plans if any exist for any repairs.

I can live with some crumbling or a facade that isn't perfect, but with this place there are some serious issues which could be easily remedied but need to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

Do you happen to know - if the building's occupants don't have the money to undertake renovations, is it possible for one or more residents to club together and at least pay and organise to have some urgent repairs carried out themselves?

Also I presume I can commission my own structural survey of the building or at least the area that affects the apartment I am interested in before buying?

Thanks for your help and advice thus far - much appreciated!

It's hard to tell if you mean well with this response or simply revel in condescension - but none of this is terribly helpful or insightful.

And to clarify - I am hardly asking you or others to provide me with an itemised proposal of how much it would cost to undertake repairs to 'my' building. I am simply inviting others to share anecdotes and possibly figures based on their own experiences.

I can see that others are already coming forward with more useful and pragmatic responses.

.

klsallee :
jellylemon :

The estate agent explained

Don't believe anything such say. They just want their commission. The will say anything to make a sale.

jellylemon :

What can I expect to happen and how much might this cost?

I have a hole in my yard. How much will it cost to fill it? See the problem? You are asking a question no one can answer without knowing exactly what amount of work is needed (i.e. the size of hole to fill).

jellylemon :

How also can I ensure that my home doesn't get damaged if the repairs don't happen soon and things like water damage starts to occur due to all the structural decay?

You can't. Period. If fact, expect damage from one reason or the other. For example, someone I know with an apartment constantly gets water damage from the apartment upstairs. And this after building "renovations". The pipes are crap. When will the pipes be replaced? Probably when they tear down the building and rebuild it.

It's hard to tell if you mean well with this response or simply revel in condescension - but none of this is terribly helpful or insightful.

And to clarify - I am hardly asking you or others to provide me with an itemised proposal of how much it would cost to undertake repairs to 'my' building. I am simply inviting others to share anecdotes and possibly figures based on their own experiences.

I can see that others are already coming forward with more useful and pragmatic responses.

If you had the money I do suppose you could fix the area outside the building that is your personal space. Do not however expect the house to help pay for any of it. If you do change your windows they are your
s to pay for, last time we checked out prices to change double pane windows it was around $1,500. or more for each window. We changed out our front door 13 years ago and the total for that was over $500.
A few months back we noticed some plaster coming down from our ceiling area, we think it is a small leak from upstairs due to them hiring a terrible work crew on their repairs or just the way it goes with  an old building. We should contact the manager about it. Doesn't  really bother us much as it is in a corner near the front door. If it is structural then the house should pay to fix it, if it is a leak from upstairs they have to fix it. I must get on my husband again about taking care of it, he is beyond caring most times... Our next door new neighbor had her flat remodeled within the past 6 months, could even be from her cheap plumber and crew doing a lousy job.
Be mindful of how they chopped most of these flats into smaller units, they did it after the war and as cheap as possible. When our new neighbor started work on her flat her guy pounded so hard our plaster came off the wall in our kitchen. She had it repaired but still, what a pain in the bottom it was.
We have seen and heard so much with other neighbors getting repairs done that we have gotten cold feet about fixing anything we do not have to fix.
This new neighbor bought the 68 sq. meter flat for 40 million F 8 or so months back, must of paid at least another 15 to 20 to redo everything. She seems to still be doing repairs 6 months on now...
I was in the flat with the old owner and it didn't look all that bad really, no idea what she is doing next door now.

jellylemon :

It's hard to tell if you mean well with this response or simply revel in condescension -

After buying four (4) properties, and have renovated, I am being honest. Brutally honest. But I know today, online, many people do not want brutal honesty. So many seem to want to be just told things will be okay.

jellylemon :

but none of this is terribly helpful or insightful.

Then, maybe you asked your question wrong.  For example,

Asking:

jellylemon :

What can I expect to happen and how much might this cost?

Sure seemed at first blush to me you were asking "how much this might cost". Correct me I misquoted you there.

Glad to see you "corrected" your intent. with

jellylemon :

And to clarify - I am hardly asking you or others to provide me with an itemised proposal of how much it would cost to undertake repairs to 'my' building

No one can read your mind. Or my mind. I comment based on what I read, not what I assume you meant.

But then, still, exactly what do you want to know regarding cost of any renovation? Again, I ask how can anyone answer that for your building on any level? A renovation may only cost a few thousand Euro, or something in the 5 figure range. No one can give you real numbers of cost for you without seeing the building. Because every case differs. What I paid, may not be what you have to pay. An even if you renovate, like I said, your space is not the only issue... Pipes may still burst, costing you even more repair costs. That is reality. And, yes, I simply trying to explain reality to you with such old buildings.

But it is your money. Spend it as you wish. And with luck, maybe no pipes will burst and you will be forever happy with your purchase. I have not crystal ball. I am simply saying what may cause you problems.

Just trying to help you avoid going into this with your eyes wide shut.....  ;) Hope this helps.  :)

P.S. In the case I know.... they were the outgoing sewer pipes that broke..... Not pleasant for the down stairs neighbor. Ceiling was.... brown....  :o . just saying.... Good luck.

Marilyn Tassy :

Costs for building repairs comes out of the monthly common costs that are paid to the house.
If they do a large repair then expect your common costs to go up.

Or the owner of the building, or the board can vote, to ask all owners to immediately pay an set amount to cover costs. This has happened to one person I know. Repairs had to be done, structural, and there could be no waiting to get "common costs" increased amassed in time to do the needed construction. This person had to take out a loan, using the apartment as collateral, to pay those demanded costs.

It is complicated.

Marilyn Tassy :

last time we checked out prices to change double pane windows it was around $1,500. or more for each window.

If the windows are wood, and the frames are in good condition, and depending on the design, they can be routed out and new double pane glass inserts installed. Much cheaper. If.... If you can find someone competent  to do the work. Which is of course the other problem..... Because that is not easy.

jellylemon :

Also I presume I can commission my own structural survey of the building or at least the area that affects the apartment I am interested in before buying?

Only with permission of the building owner. But ignorance is bliss.... so if you can get it. They may not want to know if the property is in official total disrepair beyond cosmetic issues. That could cause loss or sales of apartments.

And this is Hungary.... How can you know the structural survey was done properly? Again, this is Hungary. Things often work differently here. You may need to walk through the building with the engineers to make sure the survey was done in full and completely (and that may include drilling into some walls). Seriously. I am not kidding. Some "surveys" include not much more than someone walking through the corridors and looking around.  Insufficient. Again, talking from experience. Sorry for more bad news. But I- am simply saying how one must really take great care in such cases.

klsallee :
Marilyn Tassy :

last time we checked out prices to change double pane windows it was around $1,500. or more for each window.

If the windows are wood, and the frames are in good condition, and depending on the design, they can be routed out and new double pane glass inserts installed. Much cheaper. If.... If you can find someone competent  to do the work. Which is of course the other problem..... Because that is not easy.

My husband has changed the glass a couple of times when silly me broke them,He is handy enough but as one ages, he hardly cares any longer about many things.
My mom used to changed the windows too on her own but those old skills are not too common these days. We would not pay for new windows, in fact today I mentioned it is time to redo the paint outside the windows and maybe add some putty here and there... Not fun but cheaper to do ourselevs.
Our new neighbor put in 5 new double pane windows but I think she is wasting her money because I know the old ones were good enough. I spend time in her flat visiting the old neighbors and their place was decent enough.

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