A modern 4 bedroom house in Lithuania
2.1 MILLION USD (1.8 MILLION EURO)
On a hill on the northwestern outskirts of Vilnius, Lithuania, this 4,844 square meter house was designed by Lithuanian architect Tomas Lape in 2010 for a senior executive, his journalist and their two sons.
After the children grew up and moved out, "the couple decided to sell the house and travel the world," said Giedre Simanoniene of Baltic Sotheby’s International Realty, the realtor. "You love the house, but you are only two people."
Set on 2.4 hectares in Buivydiskes, a growing suburb just outside the city limits of Vilnius, the angular house was designed "to make you feel like there is no border between inside and outside," said Ms. Simanoniene. Its 7 meter high ceilings and window walls complement natural materials such as wood, stone and granite. “It's a very conceptual design that lives with nature in a very modern home,” she said.
Behind the house, the landscaped area includes a lake and an artificial pond. "The lake is fed by a stream, so it is always fresh," said Ms. Simanoniene. Next to the pond, the sellers added a separate building with a spa and sauna.
Since the house is at a dead end, "there are no neighbors and you have complete privacy," she said. The gated driveway leads to a box-shaped garage clad in wood and aluminum. A hallway connects the garage with the kitchen, whose minimalist design contrasts with simple white fittings and black Miele appliances. “The kitchen was designed so that all of the storage space is hidden,” she said.
In the loft-like living room, three long sofas surround a handcrafted wooden table under an amoeba-shaped lamp. A wide bookcase hides a small office at one end of the living room. A room-length fireplace encloses a fireplace between a glossy white bar top and a polished stone pedestal.
Glass panels with plant-inspired etchings open from the kitchen to the high dining room. Directly next to the dining room, an oak staircase leads to the second floor. The same wood wraps part of the exterior of the house. "You have many of these details from the outside that come inside," Ms. Simanoniene said. A windowless wine room on the main level, decorated with hand-painted silk paintings in grape motifs, maintains a natural coolness from the house's hillside location.
On the second floor there is the master bedroom with oak flooring, a large dressing room and an en-suite bathroom. Two further bedrooms share a bathroom and each has its own commute to the property. The vendors have converted a fourth bedroom into a gym.
Buivydiskes, about 11 km northwest of central Vilnius, Lithuania's capital and largest city, has its roots in a 12th-century mansion built by Lithuanian nobles, Ms. Simanoniene said. Land was relatively cheap until 2016 when the national government and European partners completed part of the West Bypass, a motorway designed to ease traffic and better connect Vilnius with other Baltic capitals. The freeway also opened the door to development, including a plan for 180 apartments nearby.
Buivydiskes "is little known, but very handy for the city," said Sandra Jakule, an agent at Asmeninis NT in Vilnius. "It's not very popular now, but land is getting very expensive," she said. "The largest shopping center in the Baltic is under construction right next to this place."
According to Arnoldas Antanavicius, director of RealData, a real estate consultancy based in Vilnius, the house is an outlier in the area. The region "is popular with business and middle-class buyers, but it is quite rare to see a luxury property there," he said.
But Linas Lekamavicius, agent / owner of the ReBaltic company in Vilnius, called this section of Buivydiskes “a prestigious luxury area with large lots and lots of privacy. It is in a pine forest, outside the city center but not outside the city and perfect if you want to live in nature. "
The city of Vilnius has about 700,000 inhabitants and is located in southeast Lithuania, near the border with Belarus. Its medieval old town with a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassicism was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
This property is around 11 km from the Old Town and around 16 km from Vilnius International Airport.
Apartments make up the majority of the inventory in Vilnius city center, with some historic townhouses and a few single-family homes, Ms. Jakule said. At the beginning of the pandemic, apartment prices "took off like a train," she said. "The demand is high and the supply is low."
Lithuania's economic prospects play a bigger role than Covid-19 in the city's housing market, she said: “People are afraid of high inflation. They want their money to keep its value. So you're investing in real estate and developers can't build fast enough. "
Lithuanians also borrow large sums to buy real estate, said ReBaltic's Mr Lekamavicius. "The younger generation is living a little higher than their means and taking out the maximum amount of credit they can get from banks, so prices have escalated," he said. "We're in the middle of a bubble, I think."
However, the pandemic did its part in the shortage of inventory and delayed the construction of projects that have been marketed to potential buyers, said Audrius Sapoka, managing director of Ober-Haus, a brokerage and consultancy firm in Vilnius. "The postponement of the new building created a gap between supply and demand," he said.
For apartments, the average price per square meter in new "economy class" buildings is around 1,550 euros ($ 170 per square foot), Sapoka said. "Mid-range" units cost up to $ 2,500 per square meter ($ 275 per square foot), and "Prestige" homes can range from $ 3,500 to more than $ 6,000 per square meter ($ 385 to $ 660 per square foot), said he.
At the beginning of the pandemic, many Vilnius residents chose to buy second homes instead of giving up their city apartments, Lekamavicius said, so supply grew less than in cities whose residents fled to greener pastures.
RealData's Mr Antanavicius shared data from the Lithuanian State Enterprise Center of Registers that the number of apartments sold in Vilnius increased from 756 in June 2020 to 1,161 in June 2021, from 756 in June 2021, and the city rose from 78 to 112 over the same period.
Resale market prices rose 7.2 percent quarter over quarter in the first quarter of 2021 and 15.2 percent in the first quarter of 2020, according to data shared by Mr Lekamavicius of the same government agency. Among the Baltic capitals, Vilnius is “more expensive than Riga, but cheaper than Tallinn. And although we are increasing every year, we are much cheaper than Amsterdam or Brussels. "
Who buys in Vilnius
The real estate market in Vilnius is "mostly local," said Sapoka from Ober-Haus. “Buyers are from the city or other regions of Lithuania.” Buyers from outside Lithuania are “usually immigrants who are leaving the country and repatriating or making investments,” he said, noting that individual buyers, rather than institutional investors, “dominate the market ".
Ms. Simanoniene, who specializes in luxury real estate, said she's seen some buyers from Germany, France, Switzerland and the United States lately. "Lithuania has become attractive because of our economic situation, intellectual potential, reasonably good tax environment and well-educated young people," she said. "And we have four clearly expressed seasons with beautiful nature."
However, the travel restrictions related to the pandemic have "completely stopped" the few foreign buyers in the market, Lekamavicius said. On July 1, Lithuania resumed a state of emergency and tightened these restrictions.
Foreigners can freely buy houses in Lithuania. "Buying real estate is very easy, without many obstacles or formalities," says Eivydas Sadauskas, Associate Partner at the Vilnius law firm Glimstedt. "But a foreigner should hire a lawyer if technical problems arise." Many overseas buyers also use powers of attorney to represent them in transactions, he said.
Notaries draft sales contracts, said Dainius Palaima, a notary in Vilnius. Although down payments exist, "they are not very popular in practice," Palaima said. “It is more common to hold the transfer of ownership until the time of full payment when a transfer agreement is signed by the parties in addition to the main contract.” The notary then files all documents with a public register. Buyers pay registration fees set by the government.
Languages and currency
Lithuanian; Euro (1 Euro = 1.19 $)
Taxes and Fees
International buyers pay 15 percent withholding tax on gross rental income for income property and face withholding tax when selling a property, said Linas Liktorius, head of tax practice at KPMG Lithuania. As an alternative, he said, "it is quite common for a foreign buyer to set up a local entity, such as a public company, to own the property."
The real estate commissions in Lithuania averaged 3 percent with a VAT of 21 percent, said Ms. Simanoniene. Notary fees, which are set by the government, average 0.33 to 0.41 percent of the property's value.
While Ms. Simanoniene declined to disclose property taxes on this house, KPMG's Mr. Liktorius said these taxes are up to 3 percent on the market value of a home and up to 4 percent on its land annually.
An additional 21 percent sales tax applies to purchases of "a new condo, building, or building that has been seriously remodeled" within two years of purchase, Liktorius said.
Giedre Simanoniene, Baltic Sotheby’s International Realty, 011-370-616-08636, according to balticsothebysrealty.com
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