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House Hunting in … Poland | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The New York Times

Warsaw – This four-bedroom manor, with a French-inspired design inside and out, is in the suburb of Lomianki northwest of Warsaw, just outside Kampinos National Park, a forest recognized by Unesco as a biosphere reserve.

The house, which encompasses around 7,500 square feet, was completed in 2005 and updated in 2015; it sits on a 0.62-acre lot. Past the front doors, the entry hall, which connects the living, cooking and eating areas, has a grand travertine staircase. There is a half-bath near the entrance. The living and dining rooms share a large rectangular space to the right of the entryway.

Many of the furnishings were brought from France, where the sellers traveled and appreciated the architecture, and the home is being sold furnished, said Dorota Nowakowska, an agent with Poland Sotheby’s International Realty, which has the listing.

To the left of the entrance are the kitchen, a two-car garage, a TV room and a full bathroom with a shower and a Turkish sauna. There is a second staircase near the garage.

The ground floor has three fireplaces. One is in the entryway; another is the focal point of the living room; the third is in the kitchen, which is outfitted with white walls and dark teak countertops.

Upstairs, just past the central staircase, is a sitting area that leads to the master bedroom. The master suite has two closets, a sloping ceiling with gabled windows and a bright bathroom with a claw-foot tub, a shower and white cabinets. A hallway leads to the other three bedrooms, of which two have en-suite baths. One bedroom is ideal for guests because it has a sitting room and can be reached by a door near the garage and the second staircase, Ms. Nowakowska said.

Within a 15-minute drive are stables, a shopping center and restaurants. The forest, around 150 square miles, has trails and is popular for running and cycling. The property is about a 30-minute drive to the international airport and about a 25-minute drive to Warsaw’s center.


Poland’s housing market is still developing; prices are lower than in other European countries for comparable properties and the inventory is smaller, people working in the real estate market there said. As the Polish economy performs well, a wealthier population has been increasing demand for luxury homes in Warsaw and in other cities and resort areas.

In Warsaw, prices for all types of apartment developments are higher than in the rest of the country, according to a 2015 report about Warsaw’s luxury residential market issued by KPMG, the accounting firm, and REAS, a Warsaw-based real estate analysis and consulting company. Yet a luxury apartment in Warsaw might cost three to four times as much in Paris, according to Kazimierz Kirejczyk, the president of the management board of REAS, and one of the report’s authors.

Warsaw, which has an official population of 1.7 million and was almost completely destroyed in World War II, has few prewar buildings. Starting about 20 years ago, developers began constructing buildings aimed at affluent buyers, Mr. Kirejczyk said. The first projects were small infill buildings, followed by luxury towers about a decade ago.

Prices for luxury properties have been stable since around 2013, said Arkadiusz Wojciechowski, a managing director of Poland Sotheby’s International Realty. However, the volume of transactions has risen, as a handful of prestigious high-rise developments expanded the inventory at the market’s high end.

The luxury market for new construction is still small — there are around 90 to 100 new properties on the market in Warsaw with an asking price of more than $1 million — so sales in individual buildings can have an effect on price trends, Mr. Kirejczyk said.

Mr. Wojciechowski estimated that new apartments cost an average of $4,000 to $5,000 per square meter, or $372 to $465 a square foot. Luxury apartments and single-family homes start at around $1 million, but $500,000 can purchase an apartment in a renovated building with a concierge and a doorman, Mr. Wojciechowski said. Luxury properties typically sell for slightly below asking price, but in exceptional situations there are steep discounts — as much as 50 percent, he said.

In the luxury market, 90 percent of purchases are financed with cash, he added.

Daniel Kopania, a Warsaw-based partner with the international law firm Clifford Chance and the head of its Polish real estate department, said that compared with many other countries in the European Union, Poland’s housing prices are “still attractive.” The residential property tax is relatively low in Poland, he added.


Foreigners who live in Warsaw for work tend to rent. The vast majority of luxury homes are being sold to wealthy Poles, Mr. Wojciechowski said.

However, he said, the share of foreigners buying high-end homes in the city has been growing over the last two or three years. These buyers have been coming from the United States, Western Europe and Dubai, and they tend to have connections to Poland — for example, they have family there, or are of Polish ancestry.


Foreigners who want to buy certain types of real estate in Poland face restrictions, Mr. Kopania said. Buyers of new or previously owned apartments have no limitations, but people from many countries, including the United States, who want to buy single-family homes need to apply for a permit from the Ministry of the Interior and Administration. There are several ways to have that requirement waived, and many people do that, he added. European Union citizens are exempt, for example.

For a prospective buyer who cannot obtain an exemption, a permit takes around two months, Mr. Kopania said, once all the necessary documents have been gathered for the application.

Buyers typically cover most closing costs in Poland, and those costs vary significantly according to whether the property is new or previously owned, Mr. Kopania said. For a new house or apartment, the buyer typically pays a Value Added Tax of 8 percent. (For large new properties — houses of more than 300 square meters, or 3,230 square feet, or apartments of more than 150 square meters, or 1,500 square feet — there is a different tax structure, he said.) Parking spaces for apartments are often taxed at a higher rate of 23 percent, as are detached garages of single-family homes. For an existing house or apartment,there is no V.A.T., but a 2 percent tax commonly known as a transfer tax.

Transactions are typically handled by notaries. Lawyers tend to be used in complicated or high-value transactions, meaning those above around a million dollars, Mr. Kopania said.


Warsaw tourism portal: warsawtour.pl

Kampinos Park: poland.pl/tourism/national-parks/kampinos-national-park


Polish; zloty ($1 = 3.83 zlotys)


Annual property tax is 1,270 zlotys, or $332.

The New York Times