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BUYING REAL ESTATE IN HUNGARY - BASICS


Who can buy real estate?


In Hungary, besides Hungarians, foreign individuals and legal entities (such as companies) can also buy real estate. Citizens of EU Member States, EEA countries (Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland) and Switzerland, as well as dual nationals, can buy real estate without a special permit. However, nationals of countries other than the above (so-called third countries) need a special permit from a government office.



Who can proceed when purchasing a real estate?


In principle, a lawyer or a notary can proceed with the purchase of real estate, as the contract must be recorded in a private deed countersigned by a lawyer or in a notarial deed. In the majority of cases, lawyers handle the purchase and sale of real estate, as they tend to have greater flexibility to tailor the terms of the contract to the interest of the parties, offer a comprehensive range of legal advice and usually work on more competitive fees.


What is the process of purchasing a real estate?


Real estates in Hungary are registered by land registry offices. The contract for the purchase of real estate, signed by the parties and countersigned by a lawyer or notarised by a notary, must be submitted to the land registry and the land registry will register the change of ownership within 30 days. In urgent cases, an extra fee may be paid to the land registry for a fast-track procedure. In the latter case, experience shows that land registries register the change of ownership within 1-3 working days.


The land registry procedure is still paper-based, but this is also expected to change significantly in 2024, when the electronic land registration procedure is planned to be introduced.


What is also important to know is that it is not necessary for the seller and the buyer to appear at the lawyer's office at the same time when signing the contract. In fact, it is not even necessary to be present in person, as the contract can be signed in a video call, which is common when signing abroad.


How can the interests of the seller and the buyer be protected?


Of course, if the seller and the buyer agree on a long payment term, or the buyer takes out a bank loan or for any other reason, there is also the possibility of selling with retention of title (the seller's title can be retained until the purchase price is paid in full) or the parties can request the land registry, not to consider the submitted contract and application for registration of title until the full purchase price has been paid and the seller's so-called title registration permit has been submitted to the land registry (this is called "suspension of the procedure"). The latter option is typically the more common between sale with retention of title and suspension of the procedure. Both options are legally safe.


With the above legal solutions, the seller can also be sure that the buyer will not obtain title until the seller has received the full purchase price, and the buyer can also be sure that the seller will not sell the property to someone else between the time the contract is concluded and the time the purchase price is paid. (The buyer's interest is protected by the fact that the lawyer submits the concluded contract to the land registry, the land registry registers the pending procedure on the title deed and only then does the buyer pay the seller.)


What is the role of the title deed?


Before the purchase, it is recommended (and for lawyers mandatory) to obtain the title deed of the real estate. This can be simply downloaded electronically and it contains up-to-date data of the real estate, of the owner, of the encumbrances on the real estate and of the pending land registry procedures. Before the buyer signs any pre-contract, letter of intent, etc. or transfers any money to the seller or real estate agent, it is highly recommended to obtain the title deed of the real estate. A lawyer can help even at this stage and thus many future inconveniences and surprises can be avoided.


The above is, of course, a very simplified description of the real estate purchase process, the main basics and applies to the purchase of residential or commercial real estate (the purchase of agricultural land is more complicated). In all cases, it is recommended to contact a lawyer before signing any documents or transferring any money.


Dr. Hizsák Tamás

lawyer


The above article is not intended to be complete, it was created for information purposes, so it does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us using one of our contact details (e-mail: info@dunalegal.com, phone: +36 1 622 0436).

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