A Travellers Guide to Hungary

Hungary became a Christian Kingdom around 1000 A.D. and for many centuries acted as a bulwark against Ottoman Turkish expansion into Europe.

The country eventually evolved to become part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which fell apart during World War One. And then fell under Communist rule after World War II.

During the leadership of Janos Kadar in 1968, Hungary began to liberalize its economy. Hungary had its first multiparty elections in 1990 and started a free market economy. It joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004.

It has plans to adopt the euro by 2010.

The country is landlocked and has borders with Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Austria and Slovenia. Almost three quarters of the country is a low plain which is surrounded by the Carpathians, the Alps and the Dinara mountains. It has only one major city, Budapest, which attracts an estimated 60 per cent of all foreign investment.

Formerly a planned economy, the private sector (which has attracted substantial foreign investment) now accounts for over 80 per cent of national output. Hungary's inflation and unemployment have both been brought under control and with the economy expected to benefit from EU membership continued economic growth is forecast.

Most property is now in private hands, a trend encourage by mortgage subsidies. According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor's 2005 European Housing Review a 'significant housing boom' between 2000 and 2003 was followed by a decline in housing market activity last year as mortgage subsidies ended and interest rates rose. House prices remain comparatively cheap by European standards.

Taxation of property interests, especially those purchased via a company, is relatively favourable in Hungary while letting laws are said to favour landlords. In the case of apartments, an important part of the market in Budapest, tenants are expected to contribute to maintaining common areas and to renovations.

Hungary has a land registration system. Buyers of registered property are assured titled subject to registered encumbrances and legal restrictions. However, the registration system came under strain following liberalisation of the economy, especially after 1990. This led to a backlog in registrations which quickly escalated to mammoth proportions and even more substantial delays.

Things have improved more recently but registration can still take considerably longer than the 30 days allowed - although 'marginal notes' are used to note pending registrations.

Obtaining a clean title to property is one of the acknowledged dangers of buying property in Hungary and at least one law firm advises clients to 'signing nothing' until everything has been checked.

Import of currency in amounts sufficient to fund purchase of a house or apartment has to be declared and restrictions currently apply to export of currency.

Hungary became a Christian kingdom in A.D. 1000 and for many centuries served as a bulwark against Ottoman Turkish expansion in Europe. The kingdom eventually became part of the polyglot Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed during World War I.

The country fell under Communist rule following World War II. In 1956, a revolt and an announced withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact were met with a massive military intervention by Moscow. Under the leadership of Janos KADAR in 1968, Hungary began liberalizing its economy, introducing so-called "Goulash Communism."

Hungary held its first multiparty elections in 1990 and initiated a free market economy. It joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004.


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