Interest in rural property has been rising for years, as buyers sought a more affordable alternative to city properties. This year, the coronavirus has fuelled this interest even further, as vacations abroad are restricted and people remain wary of the health risks of travelling. Photo credit: Pixabay / For illustrative purposes.

Czech Rep., Jul 13 (BD) – When borders closed across most of Europe, including the Czech Republic, real estate agents were expecting increased interest in buying and renting properties in the countryside, commonly known as “cottages”, as vacations abroad were cancelled, domestic hotels were closed, and society was ordered to quarantine and keep their distance as much as possible. Although borders have since reopened, holiday-makers remain wary of the health risks abroad, and are now looking to escape to cottages inside the Republic.

Czechs’ interest in rural retreats has been rising for several years. However, whereas in previous years this interest was mainly driven by a desire to own more affordable real estate compared to city prices, this year it’s a way to make up for cancelled holidays abroad, and enjoy nature.

When the lockdown was announced in March, the government warned citizens against relocating to the countryside, leading to a high number of cancellations at the beginning of the month. But by the beginning of April, this had already turned around, as several renters and realtors of rural property, such as e-Chalupy.cz and Slevomat, reported a higher interest than before the crisis, as well as the year before.

Although demand for cottages is up, supply has declined, as many owners are thinking carefully about selling their properties. Photo credit: Pixabay / For illustrative purposes.

Andrea Danhelova, CEO of Fincentrum Reality, was expecting an increase of 30% for the year, M&M Reality confirmed that they were seeing a “strengthened demand”, and Bezrealitky even reported a tenfold increase in interest from last year. All of them credited the virus for the unusual interest. “Even if the borders open soon, given the health risks abroad, it is clear that many people will prefer a holiday in the countryside,” Ladislav Veselý of Slevomat told Seznam.cz in April.

In June, interest was still on the rise, despite the fact that many countries had opened up their borders for tourists again. Sreality.cz reported that each cottage and chalet for sale on their portal was being viewed around three times more per day than last year, and sellers were receiving around four times the number of responses.

But although demand for cottages is clearly up, supply has declined, causing prices to surge. Back in April, Jan Martina of M&M Reality explained that many owners will think carefully before selling or renting their holiday homes, as they too will be unable or unwilling to travel.

“In May 2019, there were over 3,500 offers for the sale of cottages and chalets in the Czech Republic on the Sreality.cz website. This May, the number of offers was down by about a quarter year-on-year,” Smutna told Aktualne.cz, adding that the drop in properties for sale has pushed prices up; median prices have risen by 30% in the Vysocina and Plzen Regions, and even further in Prague, where recreational homes are always in low supply, by up to 40%.

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