Expatriate Life > Accommodation - relocation...

Looking for advice from those with experience about buying apartments in Ukraine

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MK22:
Hello all, I have been resident in Ukraine for over two years now, but I have been in and out of the country on numerous occasions during that period. I am in my early twenties and I am married to a local Ukrainian girl. I received my permanent residency not long ago and we are now looking into buying an apartment in Ukraine, instead of renting one.

I have searched online for apartments from all around Ukraine, but I have decided with my wife, that Kharkiv is probably the best place to buy a property. One of the reasons for deciding on Kharkiv, is that properties there are much cheaper than they are in Kyiv and in several other Ukrainian cities. It seems like you get more bang for your buck in Kharkiv, compared to some of the other Ukrainian cities. Which is handy, as I don't want to be spending more than $60,000 on an apartment.

Having scoured the property market in Kharkiv, I have found several very attractive properties for sale. One in particular stands out. It is an 8th floor 2 room apartment that is located in prime location, with excellent views from the windows. The apartment itself is only 41 square meters in area, but location wise, it is situated in the Nagorny District, which is probably the best area in Kharkiv. However, the building itself was built sometime during the 1980's. So the building isn't new and to be honest, it doesn't look too attractive on the outside(but at least it is not a Plattenbau). The apartment itself is done up to a respectable standard, but it has by no means had tons of money thrown at it.

This particular apartment is up for sale for $52,000, which is a bit more expensive than other apartments of equivalent size in the area. But it is clearly priced higher because the apartment offers wonderful views from all its windows. This is my humble assesment, but given the description of this apartment that I have given, does it seem to be reasonably priced in your opinions? Also, would you recommend buying older apartments that were built before the 90's or do you think that it is more advisable to buy brand new(or at least more recently built) apartments?

I also have a few more questions regarding the buying process:

-As a foreigner, who will I need to assist me in the buying process of an apartment(an apartment that will probably cost anywhere between 50k to 55k)? I know that I will definitely need a lawyer for such a real estate transaction, but is there anyone else that I will need to assist me in buying a property(anyone else that I need to hire)?

-There are many owners who list their properties for sale, that say that they are happy not to deal with real estate agents. Obviously buying a property without having a real estate agent involved will cut costs for the buyer, but is it safe and acceptable to do so when buying a property in Ukraine? Or is a real estate agent needed for foreigners looking to buy properties in Ukraine?

-Is it acceptable to attempt to negotiate and haggle down the sales price in Ukraine, when buying a property? Or is that not customary in Ukraine? I wouldn't want to accidently insult the seller by attempting to bring the sale price down.

-Is it possible to buy the property using US Dollars in cash? I have heard that many foreigners have bought properties this way in Ukraine. But I also heard that foreigners who have permanent residency in Ukraine and who are registered at an address in Ukraine(my situation), have to pay differently. They have to open up a Ukrainian bank account and pay in Hryvnia via a bank transfer in order to make the property purchase.

Is this true? I would obviously much prefer paying in US Dollars if possible, as I would save a lot of money on fees. I also don't really trust the Ukrainian banks too much, when it comes to them dealing with a significant amount of my money. In my situation, is it possible for me to pay in cash and in US Dollars in order to buy the property? Or will I have to pay in Hryvnia via bank transfer?

Thank you in advance for any answers to my questions. I just really want to clear up any misconceptions that I may have, regarding the whole buying process.

Kord:
You want to pay 20-30k extra for view? :-X

1. Factoring in that the building is existing you won't get scammed by new property developer.
Meaning a lot of people lose all their money because a developer or builder just disappears with all the money.
People have no recourse in that situation, especially a foreigner.

2. There are areas around Kyiv much cheaper than Kyiv. Irpin for example. New apartments with high (comparatively) standards of construction I would think in the 30k range for your sq. meters (I would guess 50-60 sq.m. for that money.
But that is just a box, no wiring, flooring etc. A concrete shell with a door and windows. That offers you and the wife more options for interior. You can do that on the cheap and upgrade or do it up fancy ($$$) All about money but labor is quite inexpensive compared to USA. Appliances are around the same or cheaper if you can find some deals.

3. Due diligence.
You may be at a major disadvantage not knowing the language (if you don't speak Russian)
i have heard a few horror stories about buildings being built and then "frozen" due to permits not being acquired, etc.
You can witness these your self all over Kyiv.

4. Kharkiv is good choice for a young couple. Lots of students attend University there. Or at least pay money and hang about waiting to matriculate. Not as much to do as Kyiv and no Metro iirc. You might want a car unless you enjoy riding Marschutka's and taxis (again language may be an issue)

4. A building that old will have old wiring and layout compared to modern designs. You may be at the mercy of zhek for heating bill which was getting out of hand when I left Kyiv a year ago. Plus noise can be a big issue in the older buildings - make sure your windows are double glazed at a minimum and modern manufacture.

6. I wouldn't recommend rushing in to anything. Be really careful. Even the ones you love can have their own agendas.
A lot of people put property in a family member's name (mother/father) in case things go sideways.

7. There is a building company in Kyiv I think called KyivBud or something like that. Basically a construction arm of city goevernment (I'm fuzzy on details BUT they have a great track record of delivering apartments w/o disaster...Something to consider. And you won't be dealing with individual(s) for the paperwork side.

8. I had a long checklist of things to be aware of in regards to apartments. No telling where that went.

IF you take a top floor they are cheaper and no neighbors stomping on your ceiling )

9. Don't rush...

GL

MK22:
Thanks for your reply and advice Kord. You made a lot of sensible points. 

Actually, I estimate the apartment in Kharkiv is about 10-15K more expensive(not as much as 20-30K) than the apartments in the same area with a similar size, because of the great view that it has. Maybe you can correct me, but I've read that great views can increase the value of a property by anywhere between 3-80%, depending on a number of factors of course. But maybe this doesn't apply so much in Ukraine.

Regarding this particular apartment, it is the fact that it has possibly got the best location in the city and a great view, as well as being lowly priced by Western Standards, that is attractive. Where else in Europe or in the West would you get an apartment with both these traits for such a price in a large city? I can't think of any. It also says in the advertisement that it has been renovated and it does look respectable, even if it is not done up to a very expensive standard, compared to some of the other apartments that I have seen for sale.

I am a city person, so I would definitely prefer to be living somewhere located in the heart of a city.

You are definitely right with your advice about not rushing, people here seem to break the law all the time and it seems to be accepted as being normal(the way they rent here being a prime example). Despite properties being cheap and tempting here, I am aware that Ukraine is still very much the Wild West in many ways.

I plan to contact a lawyer in a few weeks time, but I thought that in the meantime, I would try and get a heads up from people with experience of buying properties in Ukraine. I mean, as a permanent resident, if I have to change Dollars to Hryvnia, how much will the banks charge on fees for this process? I have even heard that a lot of Ukrainians who sell their apartments, will only accept Dollars as payment, rather than the local currrency. It all seems a bit mad really. I also want to know if estate agents are required by law in a property transaction?

I will certainly be careful with this whole process and I plan to get an English speaking lawyer who has a good reputation to help me. I just hope that buying a property in Ukraine will be worth it, given some of the hurdles that seem to be placed in front of certain foreign buyers.



shuggah21:

--- Quote from: Kord on 06:41 24-Jul-2019 --- no Metro iirc. You might want a car unless you enjoy riding Marschutka's and taxis


--- End quote ---

There is definitely a large functioning Metro system in Kharkiv.

https://zatramvaj.org.ua/metro/?lang=en

David Rochlin:
As the trend is for subsidies for gas to go away, be aware of your utility costs in an older building.  The high cost of gas is a factor keeping apartment pricing reasonable, especially older apartments as a lot of would be buyers have to buy an apartment with Utilities they can afford, irrespective of the apartment's other charms.

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