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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » October 29, 2008
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Warsaw Real Estate Market
October 29, 2008   
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Buyers Can Be Choosy
Warsaw's real estate market is the biggest and most developed in Poland. Residents from other cities are drawn to Warsaw by low unemployment, earnings that are the highest in the country and prestigious universities.

According to data from Emmerson real estate services company, some 290 housing projects are ongoing in the capital. The Warsaw districts of Białołęka, Mokotów, Wilanów and Praga Południe are the locations of a total of 128 projects. Housing developers are the least interested in Rembertów and Wesoła, which together account for just 1 percent of housing projects. Housing prices are starting to stabilize but without any clear drops, although developers are offering individual discounts and bonuses such as a garage, basement or stowing area. Emmerson's figures have the average price of housing and apartments in the capital at zl.9,500 per sq m, and zl.8,400 per sq m for homes excluding luxury apartments. The most expensive districts in Warsaw are Śródmieście, where the average price is zl.11,500 per sq m, Mokotów at zl.11,400 per sq m and Wola at zl.11,000 per sq m. Housing in the recently popular Białołęka costs zl.6,700 per sq m, in Praga Południe zl.9,900 per sq m and zl.6,600 per sq m in the cheapest district of Wesoła.

Live the country life but close to the city center
CB Richard Ellis and Murator Expo polled Warsaw residents who are interested in purchasing property. Findings show that as many as 23 percent of those polled want to purchase between 46 and 55 sq m and another 21 percent are thinking of purchasing a slightly larger property of 56-65 sq m in area. Small apartments up to 35 sq m in size are the least popular and are desired by just 4 percent of those polled. The interest in larger properties of over 75-78 sq m is similar.

When looking to purchase a property, people want to be close to public transportation, be within easy reach of the city center and close to green and recreation areas. These are the reasons why Mokotów was chosen by 48 percent of those polled by CB Richard Ellis and Murator Expo as the best place to live, Ursynów by 24 percent and Żoliborz and Bemowo by 22 percent each. Attractive alternatives on Warsaw's east bank are Białołęka and Praga Południe. Both districts attracted 16 percent of votes each. The older districts have better infrastructure, and not only with regard to transport. They have schools, nursery schools and medical centers. Developers must remember that other factors, such as road and social infrastructure and pleasant areas to spend leisure time in, add to the attractiveness of a location.

Pirelli Pekao Real Estate is building the Osiedle Ostrobramska estate at 75 Ostrobramska St. The first stage, which foresees the construction of 431 apartments, is slated for completion in 2010. The whole complex will cover an area of 150,000 sq m. This will be a housing estate with its own streets, squares, residential and service areas, essential infrastructure, green areas and play areas for children.

Białołęka growing and…waiting for a bridge
Białołęka today is one huge building site. The district covers an area of 74 sq km in the northern part of the city. Residents currently number some 65,000. It is situated close to main roads leading to Białystok, Gdańsk, Ostrołęka, Suwałki and the Zalew Zegrzyński lake.

Residents and investors alike are drawn to the area by low housing prices, lots of greenery and its low-rise architecture. Young married couples with children are keen to live here. Białołęka, however, has one big disadvantage and that is poor transport links with the rest of the city. The main road through the district is the always traffic-congested Modlińska Street, an extension of Jagiellońska Street. It is hoped that the planned Most Północny bridge, which will link Białołęka with the west bank, will solve the traffic problems. Currently traffic from the district crosses Grota-Roweckiego Bridge, Warsaw's most congested bridge.

Dom Development, one of Poland's largest housing developers, has just started selling homes in its Derby-Wille Miejskie estate located on Skarbka z Gór Street in Białołęka. This will be a cozy estate built in a modern architectural style. Completion is slated for the first quarter of 2010. The total value of the project is zl.31 million. The project consists of six two-story buildings containing a total of 60 apartments. The smallest apartment will have one room and cover an area of 36.9 sq m; the biggest four rooms covering an area of 118.8 sq m. Turnkey prices range from zl.7,000 to zl.7,630 per sq m. Ground-floor apartments will have their own gardens and anti-intruder roller blinds on the windows. There will be underground garaging and the whole estate will be fenced in and monitored.

The capital can afford luxury
There is a clear demand for high-quality housing and luxury apartments in Warsaw. Emmerson analysts reckon that these account for 24 percent of all current housing projects in the capital. The majority of these luxury housing projects are located in the very city center. The average price of an apartment in Warsaw, they say, is zl.13,377 per sq m and the most expensive apartments cost as much as zl.40,000 per sq m. There is no lack of takers for exclusive homes and apartments. What impresses them is a good address, the neighborhood and the name of the architect who designed the building.

Developer Echo Investment is building an apartment building, Klimt House, on Kazimierzowska Street, which neighbors the prewar buildings of Old Mokotów. The project is slated for completion at the beginning of 2010.

Demanding clients and those searching for originality are also being drawn to Restaura Górskiego, a contemporary building being built at the back of Nowy Świat Street, close to the Wedel chocolate cafe and 800 m from the Palace of Culture and Science. The investor is Barcelona-based Restaura, which has been operating in Poland since 2005. The architects have designed the building in such as a way as to combine the comforts of a modern apartment building with the beauty of a prewar tenement house. The building will contain 109 apartments and a two-story underground garage for 128 cars. Completion is slated for the fourth quarter of 2009. Apartment prices start at zl.21,890 per sq m.

Building restoration firm Ghelamco has been working for several months on a plan to redevelop the 19th-century buildings at 13 and 15 Foksal Street. The buildings will house 50 luxury apartments between 50 and 250 sq m in area. Wherever possible, Ghelamco intends to preserve the prewar plasterwork and restore mosaic parquet floors and the frescoes on the ceilings of the stairwells. Number 13 was built in 1898 and initially was elaborately decorated. Warsaw sweet-maker Józef Wedel owned the building in the 1930s.

The foundation stone was laid at the end of September for the Orco Property Group's flagship project, an apartment building at 44 Złota Street, which was designed by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, who is of Polish descent. The project is sited in the very center of Warsaw, close to the Palace of Culture, the Złote Tarasy shopping center and the InterContinental Hotel. The 54-story building, 192 m tall, will house 251 apartments between 62 and 371 sq m in floor area. The most prestigious three-level penthouse will be at the top of the building. The whole of the eighth floor will be given over to recreational use by the residents. Facilities will include a 25 m swimming pool, fitness club and gym, a massage parlor, a play area for children and a terrace. If all goes to plan, the project should be completed by 2010.

Warsaw's wealthiest residents are increasing their demands and this is why developers are offering not only homes but additional services too. Atlas Real Estate, the company building the Platinum Towers apartments at 63 Grzybowska Street, is offering its clients services of a standard to be found in 5-star hotels. Residents will be able to take advantage of services such as laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping with delivery, dog walking and apartment sitting while away. The developer is giving residents of each apartment 10-year membership of the Holmes Place fitness club, which will be located in the building. Holmes Place will have a gym, swimming pool and spa.

The Platinum Towers project consists of two 22-story towers on a site that also includes the Hilton Hotel. The towers will house 387 apartments between 37 and 100 sq m in floor area. Penthouses of between 147 and 216 sq m in area will be located on the two top floors. The average price of a square meter is zl.20,500.

Ghelamco is also building so-called soft lofts and apartments in Mokotów at the intersection of Woronicza and Racjonalizacji streets. This Woronicza Qbik project is designed to provide 350 homes of between 36 and 200 sq m in area. The soft lofts will be split-level, with ceiling heights in the living areas reaching 5.8 m, but the apartments will be on one floor only. Soft lofts, as opposed to lofts, are built from scratch as new buildings. The Woronicza Qbik soft lofts and apartments went on sale in spring this year. The project is due for completion between the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011.

Wilanów: too far away
Wilanów is only in eighth place with regard to most desirable place to live in Warsaw in a ranking prepared by CB Richard Ellis and Murator Expo. Last year it fared better and came in third place. Just 17 percent of those Warsaw residents who are thinking of purchasing property would consider Wilanów, say analysts. According to the analysts, the reason for Wilanów's current unpopularity is poor transport links with the rest of the city.

Miasteczko Wilanów, a huge urban project, is under construction in Wilanów. It lies on a 169-hectare site in the western part of the district. Miasteczko Wilanów will eventually contain residential estates, schools, nursery schools and a center with shops, services, hotels, offices, restaurants and coffee shops. It is 8 km from the city center and 7 km from Warsaw's Frederic Chopin Airport.

A buyers' market
Warsaw is seeing a process whereby housing supply is gradually meeting demand. Competition is also growing among developers. Prices are not going up month on month, which was the case in previous years, and thus buyers have more time to make purchase decisions. They are looking at and comparing offers more carefully. According to CB Richard Ellis analysts, a drop in construction costs may cause developers to reduce their prices. Further expansion of the housing market in Warsaw will also depend on banks' mortgage policies.

Magdalena Fabijańczuk
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