House Hunting in Lithuania: Wood, Glass and Near a Private Lake

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Built on a hillside on the northwest outskirts of Vilnius, Lithuania, this 4,844 square meter home Designed by Lithuanian architect in 2010 Thomas Lape for an executive, journalist wife and two sons.

After the kids grew up and moved, the couple “decided to sell the house and travel the world,” said Giedre Simanoniene of listing agency Baltic Sotheby’s International Realty. “They love the house, but they’re just two people.”

Set on 2.4 acres in Buivydiskes, a growing suburb just outside the city limits of Vilnius, the angular house was designed to “feel as if there were no boundaries between inside and outside,” says Ms. Simanoniene. Its 23-metre ceilings and window walls complement natural materials such as wood, stone and granite. “It is a highly conceptual design that lives in touch with nature in a very modern home,” he said.

Behind the house, landscaped areas include 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 vendors added a separate building with a spa and sauna.

Because the house is at the end of a cul-de-sac, “there are no neighbors and you have total privacy,” he said. The gated driveway leads into a wood-and-aluminum-lined box-like garage. A hallway connects the garage to the kitchen, whose minimalist design compares stylish white fixtures with black Miele appliances. “The kitchen is designed in such a way that all the storage is hidden,” he said.

In the loft-like living room, three long sofas surround a handcrafted wooden table under an amoeba-shaped light fixture. A large bookcase hides a small office at one end of the living room. A room-size fireplace creates a fire pit between a glossy white bar top and polished stone base.

Glass panels with plant-inspired engravings open from the kitchen to the high-ceilinged dining room. Just outside the dining room, an oak staircase leads to the second floor. The same wood covers part of the exterior of the house. “You have many of these details from the outside,” said Ms. Simanoniene. A windowless wine room on the main floor, decorated with hand-painted silk murals in grape motifs, provides a natural chill from the house’s hillside location.

On the second floor, the oak-floored master bedroom contains a large dressing room and an en suite bathroom. Two more bedrooms share a bathroom and each has its own exit to the grounds. Sellers converted a fourth bedroom into a gym.

About seven miles northwest of central Vilnius, the capital and largest city of Lithuania, Buivydiskes has its roots in a 12th-century mansion built by Lithuanian nobility. Land was relatively inexpensive until 2016, when the national government and European partners completed part of the Western Bypass, a superhighway designed to relieve traffic and better connect Vilnius with other Baltic capitals. The highway also opened the door to development, including a plan. 180 flats recently.

One agent, Sandra Jakule, said Buivydiskes is “little known, but very suitable for the city.” Asmenis NT, in Vilnius. “It’s not very popular right now but the land will become very expensive,” he said. The biggest shopping mall in the Baltics is under construction right next to this place.

According to its manager, Arnoldas Antanavicius, the house is an outlier in the region. RealData, a Vilnius real estate consulting firm. The area is “popular with economy and middle class buyers, but it’s pretty rare to see a luxury object there,” he said.

But Linas Lekamavicius is the broker/owner of the company. ReBaltik The firm in Vilnius called this part of Buivydiskes “a prestigious luxury district with large grounds and lots of privacy”. Perfect if you want to live in a pine forest, outside the city center but not outside the city and in nature.”

The city of Vilnius has about 700,000 residents and sits in the southeast corner of Lithuania, near the border with Belarus. The medieval Old Town with a mix of Gothic, renaissance, baroque and neoclassical architecture was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

This property is approximately seven miles from the Old Town and approximately 16 miles from Vilnius International Airport.

Ms. Jakule said that with some historic townhouses and a few single-family homes, most of the inventory in Vilnius city center is apartments. At the onset of the pandemic, apartment prices “hit like a train,” he said. “Demand is high, supply is low.”

He said Lithuania’s economic outlook is a more important factor in the city’s housing market than Covid-19: “People are afraid of high inflation. They want their money to maintain its value. That’s why they’re investing in real estate and developers can’t build fast enough.”

Mr. Lekamavicius of ReBaltic said that Lithuanians are also borrowing larger amounts to buy property. “The younger generation lives just above their means and gets the maximum loan they can get from banks, so prices have gone up,” he said. “I think we’re in the middle of a bubble.”

But the pandemic has played its part in inventory shortages, delaying the construction of projects marketed to prospective buyers, said Audrius Sapoka. Ober-Haus, a Vilnius brokerage and consulting firm. “The delay of new construction created a gap between demand and supply,” he said.

Mr Sapoka said the average price per square meter for apartments in the new “economy class” buildings is about €1,550 ($170 per square metre). “Mid-range” units run up to about 2,500 euros ($275) per square foot, and “prestige” homes can cost more than 3,500 to 6,000 euros ($385 to 660 sq feet) per square foot, he said.

Mr Lekamavicius said that at the onset of the pandemic, many Vilnius residents were choosing to buy second homes rather than giving up their city apartments, and therefore the supply increased less than in cities whose residents had fled to greener pastures.

Antanavicius from RealData shared Lithuania’s data. State Enterprise Registration Center It shows that the number of apartments sold in Vilnius increased from 756 in June 2020 to 1,161 in June 2021. In the same period, the number of detached houses sold in the city increased from 78 to 112.

According to data shared by Mr. Lekamavicius from the same government agency, prices in the resale market increased by 7.2 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the previous quarter and by 15.2 percent in the first quarter of 2020. Among the Baltic capitals, he said, Vilnius is “more expensive than Riga, but cheaper than Tallinn.” And as we go up every year, we are much cheaper than in Amsterdam or Brussels.”

Mr Sapoka from Ober-Haus said that the real estate market in Vilnius is “mostly local”. “Buyers come from within the city or from other parts of Lithuania.” Buyers from outside Lithuania said there were “usually immigrants who left and returned or invested in their countries”, noting that individual buyers rather than institutional investors “dominate the market”.

Ms. Simanoniene, who specializes in luxury properties, said she has recently seen several buyers from Germany, France, Switzerland and the United States. “Lithuania has become attractive because of our economic situation, our intellectual potential, our fairly good tax environment and our well-educated youth,” he said. “And we have four clearly expressed seasons with a beautiful nature.”

Mr Lekamavicius said travel restrictions related to the pandemic had “completely stopped” several foreign buyers of the market. On 1 July Lithuania again declared a state of national emergency, tightening these restrictions.

Foreigners can freely buy houses in Lithuania. “Buying property is pretty simple, without a lot of hurdles or formalities,” said Eivydas Sadauskas, associate partner at the Vilnius law firm. Glimstedt. However, in case of technical problems, a foreigner should hire a lawyer,” he said. By power of attorney, many foreign buyers also said they have authorized a lawyer to represent them in the proceedings.

Dainius Palaima, a notary public in Vilnius, said that notaries prepare sales and purchase agreements. While down payments are available, “they are not very popular in practice,” said Mr. Palaima. “The more common is to hold the transfer of property until the moment of full payment, when a transfer-acceptance act is signed by the parties in addition to the main contract.” The notary then submits all documents to a public register. buyers pay registration feesdetermined by the government.

lithuanian; euro (1 euro = 1.19 dollars)

Tax enforcement manager Linas Liktorius said international buyers pay 15 percent withholding tax on their gross rental income for income-based properties and face withholding tax when they sell a property. KPMG Lithuania. Alternatively, he said, “it is quite common for a foreign buyer to set up a local entity, such as a limited liability company, to own the real estate.”

Ms Simanoniene said real estate commissions in Lithuania average 3 percent with 21 percent value added tax. Notary fees set by the government average between 0.33 and 0.41 percent of the property value.

While Ms Simanoniene refused to disclose property taxes on this home, Mr. Liktorius from KPMG said such taxes are levied up to 3 percent on a home’s market value and 4 percent a year on its land.

Mr. Liktorius said an additional 21 percent value-added tax will be applied to the purchase of “a new apartment, a new building or a structure that has undergone major remodeling” within two years of the purchase date.

Giedre Simanoniene, Baltic Sotheby’s International Realty, 011-370-616-08636, lt.balticothebysrealty.com

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