Transylvanian smallholdings

Discussion in 'Romania property' started by Mircea, Oct 11, 2012.

  1. Mircea

    Mircea New Member

    Anyone out there dealing with small traditional village houses, particularly in the Mures area (around Sighisoara). I'm talking about 3-4 rooms with 1000-2000m2 of land. I have a friend in the UK who would like to buy, renovate, and operate a semi self-sufficient home there. Is Transyvania good for that kind of thing?

    Cheers
     
  2. Muresen

    Muresen New Member

    Finding houses for sale in Transylvania

    Hello Mircea,

    I bought a place in Mures this summer. At the moment I'm just using it as a summer home (I live in Bucharest, so it's about a 3.5 hour drive) but I guess it would work well as a smallholding. My place has about 1000m2 of land that could be cultivated and it still has things like pig pens and barns and everything you'd need to get a few animals in there. The house itself is pretty large and has two enormous cellars. Sadly, I'm not thinking of selling it!

    I had a lot of trouble finding a place to buy. I originally started looking for something about 4 years ago. Back then the prices were a lot higher and I couldn't really afford anything that was suitable for my purposes. Now, of course, the prices have dropped and the owners are more open to negotiation. In the end I started by visiting all the villages in the area (Mures/Tarnave Mare) I wanted to buy in. I ended up choosing one particular village based on it's location, asthetic beauty, accessibility, facilities and investment potential (it's a village where more and more foreigners are buying).

    The problem was that there aren't really any estate agents in the area. There is one guy in Sighisoara, at a place called "Diva Imobiliare", who has small village homes on his site, and another English-language blog (google "Transylvanian Holiday Homes" or something) which just lists houses for sale, but that's about it. There's also a guy in Brasov called "White Mountain Property" but I'm not sure if he has properties in Mures also.

    In the end, I found the only way to search for properties was to:
    1. Go to your village of choice and start walking the streets looking for 'De Vanzare' signs in the windows.
    2. Talk to people in the village (start with the guy in the local shop, post office, or bar) and they'll generally point you towards people who might be selling up. If you make it clear that they'll be a little commission in it for them, a 'finder's fee' if you like, and leave them your contact details, you might get lucky.

    You can also search on regular classified sites, but obviously your friend would need some Romanian skills to do that, or a good Romanian friend (as Mircea is a Romanian name, I'm assuming you're Romanian!) There are sites like tocmai.ro and Mercador.ro which have a lot of ads for smaller homes.

    I found mine, in the end, through the seller of another property who had just sold the house I was interested in, but knew of another house down the road in the same village that was for sale, and put me in contact with the owners.

    Wish him good luck
     
  3. Mircea

    Mircea New Member

    Thanks for the info. How do you find life there so far?
     
  4. Muresen

    Muresen New Member

    You're welcome. I don't live there full time at the moment, I just go for long weekends and the occasional week. So far so good. The neighbours are really friendly and often stop for a chat. One guy across the road often pops in with some home produce, stuff like urda (ricotta), slanina (smoked pork fat), rakiu (plum brandy) and home made wine. So far the weather has been great but I plan to go there next week for a week to do a bit of work on the house and as the nights have turned a bit colder, I'll have the chance to test out the wood stoves. Of course, it's lovely during the summer when you spend all day working in the garden and evenings in front of a bbq and so on. We might spend Xmas there - that should give us a different perspective.

    The only difficult thing is finding worker. It's pretty hard to find a decent team of guys, and when you think you've found someone and set a start date, they just don't turn up - no warning, no apology. I can do most things myself, but I do need the services of a plumber and a plasterer. Anyway, I don't have a particular deadline so I'll get it sorted out in the end.

    Which area is your friend house hunting in? There are quite a few houses in my area for sale, ranging from 20K Euro up to about 40K. Do you know his budget?
     
  5. Mircea

    Mircea New Member

    Hi,

    He want's to get something toward the cheaper end of the market, like 15-20'000 Euro, which he can then do up himself. Two bedrooms, living room (or room that can be converted to a living room), kitchen and space for a bathroom (he doesn't mind plumbing it in himself). Not too much land - he's not doing the Good Life thing.

    He'll probably use it as a summer house, so probably best if it's somewhere without range of an airport, like Targu Mures. Somewhere around Sighisoara would be good, I reckon.
     
  6. Muresen

    Muresen New Member

    15-20K is doable, but it'll be a real wreck and will probably need everything doing - electrics, water, roof, and so on. Depends exactly which village. Sighisoara itself is pretty expensive but that doesn't sound like what he wants as he probably wants a bit of land if he's going to go self-sufficent at some point. There are some beautiful Saxon village just to the south-east of Sighisoara and the area is being quite heavily promoted by Prince Charles - he has some village houses there and many of the village have UNESCO protected status, meaning if you buy there, they'll be some protection against the onslaught of modernism.

    However, the fact that Charlie and a few other expats have bought in the area has meant the locals are probably a little less likely to negotiate (good idea to get a Rom speaker to get the initial price if it's not listed, so they don't know a foreigner is buying it from the onset). The more sought-after villages are places like Saschiz, Viscri, Malencrav, Crit, etc.

    If you go off the beaten track a bit more, you can find some good deals, but probably you'd have to go there yourself (or your friend, rather) and talk to people. You're more likely to get a reasonably priced property that way. You might find what you're looking for, 3 rooms plus for 10-15K, in villages like Feleag, Mureni, Mihai Viteazu.
     
  7. Mircea

    Mircea New Member

  8. Muresen

    Muresen New Member

    It's not a bad looking house, nicely renovated, looks ready to live in. You could do worse for a holiday home. Price is, in my opinion, a little high, although you'd have to go and see it and see how well the renovations have been done, stuff like the roof and the windows and so on. If they are all renovated/restored to a good standard and there's really nothing left to do except making you own mark on it, then I would probably suggest putting in a cheeky offer of 25K just to test the waters, see if they are desperate to sell, but maybe settling at around the 30K mark.
     
  9. Mircea

    Mircea New Member

    Thanks. Are there many expats living in that area? What is there to do there?
     
  10. Muresen

    Muresen New Member

    There are quite a few expats around. It's nothing like in places that I've read about in Hungary or Bulgaria where there have whole expat communities (it seems) and stuff like that. It's a lot more rustic so you have to be willing to throw yourself into local customs and cultures so if your friend (or you, are you also interested or just asking on behalf of a friend?). There are no Tescos supermarkets so it might not suit the average Brit holiday-homer. In my village there are about 4 or 5 expats who live there full time (French, Italian, German) and a few who have holiday homes and come for a week or two here or there. There may be more that I just haven't heard about yet. Other larger villages usually have a few expats, but not too many.

    For stuff to do, there's probably not really going to be too much in a village. My village seems to organise a lot of events - some traditional music event, a short film showing, a festival of Saxon culture in the summer, stuff like that. There's a restaurant and bar in the main square which is nice when you can't be bothered to cook or fancy sitting out with a cold beer. Other than that, we mostly have friends round, do a BBQ in the courtyard or get the bread oven going (makes great pizza and roast dinners too!). For more exciting stuff you can go to Sighisoara where there are bars, restaurants, cafes, and clubs. They have a big medieval festival every year as well as numerous smaller festivals.

    There's lots of walking to be done. There are paths or farm tracks between all the villages meaning you can mountain bike (and avoid the main busy road) or hike. There are fortified churches and castles to visit, climbing, bird watching, hunting, fishing, ATVing, 4x4ing, and all other country pursuits. Not so far away (in Danes) there's a horse riding centre. One of the local NGOs organises special guided activities like beekeeping, visiting the shepherds and milking sheep and making cheese, making home made bread, and stuff like that. Then of course you can drive south to Brasov/Predeal (about 90 mins) where you have skiing in the winter and mountain climbing in the summer. There are bear sanctuaries you can visit and I heard about one guy who does bear watching hikes if you're brave enough.
     
  11. Mircea

    Mircea New Member

    Comprehensive reply, thanks!

    You say you are doing the place up yourself cos you can't find workers. What about materials and stuff like that? Are there hardware stores up there? I'm in Bucharest, plenty here, but not sure of the situation out of the main cities.

    Sorry to bug you with some many questions. I'm thinking of getting myself a place too.
     
  12. Muresen

    Muresen New Member

    No worries, ask whatever you like.

    Materials aren't a big problem. The main problem is that more specialist items can only be obtained from small hardware stores. Although my Romania is pretty good, I sometimes struggle with some of the technical items. In Sighisoara there is a store called Ambient (something like Bricostore, but not as big as the Bucharest ones). It does most general items and also have free delivery (probably some condition, like over a certain price or under a certain distance, but can't remember them off hand). There's also a Romstal and Miranda in Sighi for plumbing stuff plus various small hardware stores. Siceram is another big company in Sighi and they work mostly with terracotta - roof tiles, bricks, etc.

    Other things you can get locally. I bought a load of bricks from a place in Viscri - hand made ones in the traditional style (sun dried, kiln fired) for about 25c each. In the same village there is also a carpenter who is quite cheap. He's doing a bed for me, from my designs, and it'll cost about 400 ron (85 Euro). Pretty reasonable although I haven't seen the finished item yet. If I'm happy with the quality I'll have him make other furniture for the house. There's also another guy who makes roof tiles which look to be of good quality.

    Failing that, Brasov is only about an hour and a bit away, so you can also go there where there are loads of big DIY stores: can't remember which but I think there is a Obi and a Praktiker and probably a Bricostore.

    Where are you thinking of buying?
     
  13. Mircea

    Mircea New Member

    Probably somewhere close to Sighisoara. I can basically work from anywhere (internet based business) but my wife would need to be near a large town to find some work to do. It'd also be handy for shopping and the odd night out. I like the idea of the country lifestyle, but I would need to get out for a meal or a beer from time to time.

    I've seen a lot of stuff on the media about Viscri recently, with these expensive jams and Prince Charles' visits. Has that pushed the prices up much? Are people selling houses there?
     
  14. Muresen

    Muresen New Member

    Yeah, prices in Viscri do seem to be a little higher than in other villages, but I suppose they represent a better investment or resale value. Plus, the advantage for a holiday home buyer is that they know the village is protected from ugly development. In Saschiz it's the same story. There are restrictions on what you can do to the facade of the old buildings to maintain the historic atmosphere of the village. Good stuff really, I'm glad they've done it. Inside the house and garden you can more or less do what you want though. So yes, you might pay more for a house in one of the more popular villages, but at the same time it has better potential as a holiday rental, better resale possibilities, and you know the village is going to keep looking nice.
     
  15. proger

    proger New Member

    Mursen really like your posts and attitude...
    Im looking to buy a plot of land in romania also, and Transylvania area is really interesting, I will be more than happy if youl be able to chat with me a little bit and help get real sense about the area.
    I didnt found out how to send Private message in this forum, so you can contact me if you know how. good day!
     

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