Letter to the Editor: Homebuyers and real estate vendors still don't speak same language

Dear Editor,

I would like to share my experiences and add some ideas on searching for a house around Bratislava.

I fully agree with everything that Tom Nicholson wrote in his article "Culture shock: Wanna buy a house?" [Vol. 5, No. 44, Nov. 22-29]. Our experience of trying to buy real estate has been very similar. We also have met people trying to sell a garden as a building site in a residential (or soon-to-be residential) area. We also have had the pleasure of meeting "Avis group" types of swindlers, and therefore we have decided in future to use real estate agents rather than to go through private dealers and individual sellers.

The most interesting experience we had was with a man selling a house that he had inherited from his recently-deceased parents in Pezinok [20 kilometers north of Bratislava]. The price for this three-room house, which had been built in the 1950's and had a small vineyard attached to it, was three million Slovak crowns [$72,000]. When I asked the man how he had arrived at that price, he answered "you know, we are three brothers, and each of us needs one million crowns." That was it. People assess the value of their property often on the basis of their feelings and financial needs, rather than on market realities such as what buyers are willing or able to pay.

I must admit the situation is changing, and while the real estate market is stagnant at the moment, it may soon pick up. Just as the prices of old flats have dropped in Bratislava, the same will happen to the prices of old houses in and around the capital. Real estate agencies have improved as well, though they still have a lot to learn.

I promise to report any new experiences later, since my husband and I haven't given up our dream of owning a house, a dog and a small garden.

Perla Farkašová

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