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Pitfalls of buying a Polish Flat built in 1950's

mcrpolak 6 | 36
21 Aug 2015 #1
Hi all,

Looking for some advice. We've seen a flat we'd like to buy in Poland. The flat is 60m2 with three rooms. It's in an area of Katowice we'd specifically like to live within.

The building the flat is in is a 5 story high building built in the 1950's from brick. Everything seems in good order but we're not experts. The flat has recently been renovated too and looks to be in a brilliant condition. We'd like some help however with specific costs, the flat is PLN375k, We understand we'll also be liable for:

2% VAT which equates to about PLN 8k
1% Notary fees so about PLN 4k
Who pays the estate agent fees?
Given the age of the building we'd like to instruct a Nadzor Budowlany. How do you go about doing this? How do you find a reputable person? And lastly what do they charge.

Are there any other pitfalls we should think about when buying an apartment of this age?

Lastly how does a deposit process normally work in PL? Do you pay a set amount upfront? Or does everything get paid at the end?

Your help is appreciated.
Avalon 4 | 1,067
22 Aug 2015 #2
These older properties have been discussed before in a number of older threads.

I personally, would not touch a flat of that age. Just because it has been tarted up, tells you nothing about any underlying, structural, problems. If you still want to go ahead, make sure that you get a good, surveyor. Not, a building inspector who will say anything to please you. You are spending a large amount of money, invest a small amount in a good, reputable, surveyor. Should anything go wrong after the purchase, the surveyor should have indemnity insurance and you can sue him.
smurf 39 | 1,966
22 Aug 2015 #3
5 story high building built in the 1950's from brick

It's in an area of Katowice we'd specifically like to live within.

If it's Szopienice or Nikiszowiec then run for the hills coz they are scumholes.

Regarding your charges, hire a lawyer here, they're pretty cheap and get them to do everything.
Dougpol1 31 | 2,639
22 Aug 2015 #4
If it's Szopienice or Nikiszowiec

At that price it must be Brynow or Ligota.......

Otherwise a ridiculous ask. 375,000 will buy a sea view here.
OP mcrpolak 6 | 36
23 Aug 2015 #5
It's actually in none of those places, it's on Ulica Francuska.

Our plan was to appoint surveyor so thanks for advice.

Thanks for the advice on the make up of 1950's blocks. I've read the link you posted which gives good advice however it seems to mainly relate to concrete blocks. This one is built from brick, I heard that brick constructed apartments from this time were generally better quality. Is that true?
smurf 39 | 1,966
23 Aug 2015 #6
At that price it must be Brynow or Ligota.......

Could be, don't have a clue about the price of property here.
Just know I wouldn't live in either of those sh!teholes.

it's on Ulica Francuska

Handy, close to city centre, nice noisy hospital there too and really busy railtracks. Hope you don't plan on sleeping :D

This one is built from brick, I heard that brick constructed apartments from this time were generally better quality

If someone told you that 1950s Communist brick-built blocks are of good quality then sir your leg has been well and truly pulled.

The entirety of Francuska is crumbling, only thing it's got going for it is its location....and a wee craft beer pub called Browariat. That place is great.

But look, you're paying for an address. You want better value for your buck, you're gonna need to look at the suburbs.
OP mcrpolak 6 | 36
23 Aug 2015 #7
So Smurf, you don't know anything about the price of property in Katowice, but you do know I need to look at the suburbs.

I have no issue with the location. As i made clear in my first post, i've been in Kato enough times and my friend lives on Ulica Francuska too and never had any problem when sleeping there. The apartment itself is 1.5km from the train tracks so sure i'll be ok. I also am comfortable with paying that amount of money to live close to the city.

I was looking only for advice on the pitfalls of buying a 1950's brick constructed property. What I should do and who I should get to look at the apartment to make sure it's ok. I am from England where our properties are old and rest assured i'm smart enough to know to get someone qualified to look at it. I just wanted to know some practical things such as the other costs I might expect when buying and where to find a reputable person to inspect the property.

Avalon kindly provided some detail but need to know more about the total costs as listed in my first post,
terri 1 | 1,663
23 Aug 2015 #8
Most important thing - make sure that the seller is the owner of the flatand has a right to sell. Make sure that the KW (ksiega wieczysta) is CLEAN. Ask the owner for the number and check it yourself.

Add 10% for costs of buying the flat. You cannot do it any cheaper.
Do not trust what anyone says about the condition - make sure that you see evidence (paperwork/documents) of any renovation - electricity, gas, water - evidence and not their word. People usually just paint the walls and think it's ok, but underneath they have pipework/cables that are 30 or 40 years old.
OP mcrpolak 6 | 36
24 Aug 2015 #9
thanks @terri

How do we go about finding a good surveyor in Katowice? Is there a national register of qualified surveyors?
terri 1 | 1,663
24 Aug 2015 #10
I don't know any surveyors in Katowice. What you need is 'uprawniony inspektor budowlany' - look for them in google.
Secondly, ascertain how the water is charged, the monthly costs of building/renovation fund for shared facilities, the waste costs. These are the important things which normally you only find out after you purchase.

I have checked costs of buying a used flat for 375,000 on few websites. Minimum costs 25K - 28K. (assuming 3% provision for estate agent- some charge more). Add 3K for building inspection. Save 2K for emergencies - so my calculation of about 10% wasn't far out.
OP mcrpolak 6 | 36
24 Aug 2015 #11
That's really useful information Terri, much appreciated
smurf 39 | 1,966
24 Aug 2015 #12
you don't know anything about the price of property in Katowice

Nope, don't need to know it.

But a quick google and hey presto I can find out ;)

1.5km from the train tracks

That's good, you'll be fine then. You're obviously up towards the Muchowiec end. Nicer up there, you'll be close to the park and the private airport....that's not very noisy though, only a handful of smaller planes and helicopters come in and out of it every day. Beside 3-stawy park and shopping centre too.

I just wanted to know some practical things such as the other costs I might expect when buying and where to find a reputable person to inspect the property.

And IMO the best thing you could do would be to hire a lawyer who specialises in property and you'd be steered in the right direction. Lawyers are ten a penny in Katowice and they don't charge much. They'd also be able to get you a surveyor since that's the game they're involved in.

I know it's an extra charge, but from bitter experience it's far better in the long run to hire professionals to do the dirty work than try going about it yourself. People see foreigners coming to buy property here and all they see is dollar signs y'know. The reason I'm recommending a lawyer is because they'll be able to sort out any tax issues too. Ya never know they might be able to save you a bit on it.

Best of luck.
cms 9 | 1,254
24 Aug 2015 #13
I bought a 30s brick building house here and it has been an excellent purchase - warm in winter, cool in summer, not much has gone wrong with it in 14 years, we redid the roof and windows but left the structure more or less intact.

I would however be wary of anything from Commie times - material shortages and bent inspectors must have been an issue in the 50s
Buggsy 8 | 98
25 Aug 2015 #14
Hi there, mcrpolak!
If I read correctly you are based back home in Blighty.
Pitfalls are galore when buying any old property here in Poland.
My experience : Cracks that were hidden in a new coat of paint.
Dodgy plumbing and electric wiring. Actually had a fire coming out of the faulty electric wires and kept wondering
what was burning in the flat.Uneven floors and walls. If there is new double glazing windows check the sills and area around the corners.

Then if you are worried about health and safety ,especially incase of fire and any emergencies, the regulations are different from back home.
Educate yourself with the monthly charges and other fees to the local Municipality.
Generally speaking all the renovation that has been done in an old flat has to be checked thoroughly.
Then there is the paper work- this one is very complicated if you are a first time buyer in Poland.
If it is cooperative, co owned or inherited without proper documentation then you will have a mountain to climb.
Then of course there are taxes and other fees to be paid.
If your mind is made up and don't mind much about other irregularities, then start looking for a good surveyor and good
lawyer who will do all the paper work. Other than that, you are better off coming to Poland first, experiencing
the reality of life, which is often overlooked, then deciding later on what to buy.
375k these days, which might easily go up to 400k with all the other fees, I'd personally invest that in a new built.

All the best and tell us how it goes.
OP mcrpolak 6 | 36
7 Sep 2015 #15
Buggsy, thanks for such pragmatic advice.

In the end mate it didn't work out, we've been to see it this week and it didn't look anything like the pictures suggested.

Was a bit worn and a bit of a wierd situation, the buyer wants to stay in the flat until early next year. Onwards and upwards.

I do appreciate the advice, it will stand me in good stead for the future search.
18 Nov 2015 #16
Generally regarding the 50s flats you want to avoid the "Wielka Plyty" - Big slab. Basically pre-fab concrete used a lot in the 50s and 60s construction. I only heard about it the other day but apparently its crap!

*edit* they are basically Pre-fabricated concrete blocks, and apparently mostly built during 70s ;)

i'm reading the wikipedia article lol
jon357 74 | 22,473
18 Nov 2015 #17

With Wielki Płyty it depends a lot on how high the block is and some other factors about the construction. If it's a low-built block, there isn't a problem. If it's a high-built block, the building's lifetime is heretically shorter and this tends to be reflected in the apartment's price.

Everything of course depends on how well the building is maintained.

Wielki Płyty aren't just a Polish thing, they exist around the world, but fell quickly out of favour in the UK after Ronan Point (remember that?). There have been a few recent disasters (mostly in the former Soviet Union) however in Poland they tend to be reasonably maintained.

If it's 1950s blocks, this isn't an issue. Wielki Płyty weren't generally used then - Poland simply didn't have the technology or skills for system building. Rama H which came in during the 1960s and is still used today is by the way, fine.
18 Nov 2015 #18
ok good info! i'm not a wielka plyty expert :) I have always been partial to kamienicas (which I think are generally much more solidly built)
jon357 74 | 22,473
18 Nov 2015 #19
Me too - the 1950s ones are incredibly solidly built. Can expensive though in Warsaw.

Some of the 4 story Wielki plyty ones in Ursynow are ok - they were built later and for better off people.
18 Nov 2015 #20
the 1950s ones are incredibly solidly built.

Over built even. Mine dates from the 1940s and has massive interior load-bearing walls.

Can expensive though in Warsaw.

They're cheaper than inferior new-build stuff!

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