Ilinca Paun, Managing Director of real estate agents Colliers International, commented at the time: "If I want to develop residential, it is a safe bet. The good news is that banks are financing such developments with good terms, so I might have quite a high return on my investment."
In the first nine months of 2016, the average sales price of an apartment increased by 8.4 per cent to 1,045 euros per square metre, according to property portal immobiliare.ro. All major cities in Romania saw house values rise significantly last year, with the capital Bucharest recording an increase of 5.34 per cent for average selling prices of apartments or 1,144 euros per square metre. In fact, 2016 saw the fastest growth rate of selling prices for the Romanian real estate market for nearly seven years.
So where is Romania's residential real estate market in 2017?
Last year, the residential market recorded growth of 11 per cent, according to data compiled by property portal Active Property Services (www.activepropertyservices.ro). Judging by how little land and residential property is currently listed on international websites like Propertyshowrooms.com, this trend has continued and properties, both commercial and residential, are still selling fast, with selling prices continuing to be robust.
Increases in new supply and sales activity, with average price increases of 3 to 10 per cent recorded in all major cities, were seen across the country last year.
Improved salaries, low interest rates and growing domestic as well as foreign demand meant developers became more active in 2016, and have continued to be so in 2017. Throughout last year, 52,206 new residential units were delivered at national level, according to official statistics of building permits. Most of these, 53%, were for new builds in urban areas, with almost all of the developments being privately funded (98 per cent). Only 1,228 units were developed with public finances provided by the State.
The average Romanian buyer is between 30 and 45 years of age and comes from the professional classes. Areas, where new development has been achieved, include Brasov, Sibiu, Iasi, Cluj-Napoca and Timisora - these are cities where a young middle-class population involved in predominantly IT and engineering is demanding better housing.
So what would an investment of 100,000 to 325,000 euros buy in 2017?
A plot of land in a peaceful valley in Bihor, about 2 km distance from the city of Oradea, and close to the famous spa resort of Baja Felix costs around 100,000 euros. South-facing, a 12,400 square metre plot of land currently being used as an orchard with some 100 varied fruit trees could, due to its close proximity to the city, be ideal for either residential or commercial development. Local authorities favour leisure development such as guest houses and hotels, camping grounds or mountain bike centres, as this type of development brings tourists to rural communities and creates jobs.
Such a land sale often includes an existing house. The typical rural property comes with an entrance hall, one large bedroom, a kitchen-diner, bathroom, utility area and storage room. Various outbuildings, all in need of refurbishment, complete the picture.
At the other end of the scale are modern villas for a guide price of 325,000 euros. A typical example in Constanta at the Black Sea coast boasts four bedrooms, a wine cellar, living and dining room, kitchen and pantry, as well as a garden with a useful shed. Located just 2.5 miles from the biggest summer resort along the Black Sea coast and a mere 12 miles from the nearest airport, Constanta is a good staring point for a house hunt, either for a holiday home or relocation home. Bucharest is ca. 140 miles away. Modern villas built in the past six years typically come with a plot of land, including the house, that measures ca. 2,900 square feet in total.