Source: eKapija | Tuesday, 30.08.2022.| 14:41
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Apartments in Which Pre-War Gentry Lived Still a Good Investment – Who Buys Salon Apartments in Serbia Today and at What Prices?

(Photo: FotoArt-Treu/Pixabay)
The apartments that were built in our country between the two world wars, in which pre-war gentry – lawyers, traders, bankers and other wealthy and prominent citizens – lived, are still considered a good investment when it comes to investments in real estate.

Experts say that these are very well-built apartments and that, for that reason, there is a constant demand for salon apartments in buildings raised before the Second World War, although there are no longer as many good salon apartments in the market as before.

In addition to that, the prices have increased as well, which now range between 2,000 and 5,000 per square meter in Belgrade and Novi Sad, but there are still purchasers.

– People who know what they want, who want well-built brick buildings whose quality has been proven throughout so many years, and, if you will, even after the bombing, buy them. The purchasers are also those who are interested in more comfortable apartments, but also nostalgic people and people with good taste, because salon apartments have retained that old bourgeoisie spirit – Nemanja Miljkovic, the director of the Belgrade-based agency Divis Nekretnine, explains for eKapija the reasons for the purchase of popular salon apartments.

He specifies that the purchasers are mostly lawyers, companies which use them as office spaces or those who want to rent them out to diplomats and well-off foreigners, or even as an apartment for a day.

Furthermore, Miljkovic notes, larger salon apartments are suitable for making mini hostels thanks to their size, so, for example, people in Dobracina Street have made five separate rooms, each with its own hot tub.

– Still, a part of the purchasers is attracted by new buildings which somewhat imitate the salon style, with tall ceilings. The investors are building such complexes in increasingly great numbers, mostly in Dorcol and Stari Grad, and it is generally known that, when people talk about salon apartments, they mostly mean those with a 3 meters high ceiling.

A salon apartment, however, is much more than a tall ceiling, our interviewee points out:

– True salon apartments are characterized by a small foyer and the central reception salon, from where bedrooms are accessed, whereas another part of the apartment features a room for young women with a kitchen and the economic entrance for the servants. What’s also characteristic is the full-body wood carpentry and wide and tall doors that the purchasers mostly keep. An average salon apartment has an area of around 120 m2, but during the nationalization, many salon apartments were given away, so now the market mostly features salon apartments of 70 to 90 m2.

Miljkovic says that there are around a hundred salon apartments in the Belgrade market at the moment – in Palilula, in Zemun, and mostly in Stari Grad and Vracar.

He points out that the purchase of salon apartments is always a good and stable investment.

– A quality salon apartment in a good location is only slightly below the rank of quality new buildings, because there not as many quality new buildings in premium locations as there are salon apartments. Those who develop their salon apartments properly will make a good return on the investment. Those who bought a salon apartment some ten years ago and even invested in it and now want to sell it can earn a serious amount of money – says Miljkovic and adds that many pre-war buildings are in a poor condition, but that reconstructions, such as new foundations, can extend their life cycle for the next 200 years.

The prices of salon apartments in Belgrade range from EUR 3,000 to 5,000 per square meter in premium locations such as Kneza Mihaila Street, lower Dorcol and Vracar.

However, the biggest problem when it comes to salon apartments, according to eKapija’s interviewee, is the lack of parking spaces.

– Precisely because of private garages, exclusive new buildings reach prices of over EUR 7,000 per square meter – explains Miljkovic and adds that, compared to “ordinary” old buildings, salon apartments are 20-30% more expensive on average.

When it comes to the denationalization which could potentially create problems when purchasing salon apartments, Miljkovic points out that plenty has been returned and that there are registers where that can be checked and adds that there have not been problems regarding ownership for a long time.

He also points out that, when selling salon apartments, it is mandatory to address the Institute for Protection of Cultural Monument due to the right of first refusal.

– It is always refused, but if the state had money, but also understanding, it would buy plenty of salon apartments – estimates Miljkovic, who adds that there are not many pre-war buildings which are protected as cultural goods, and that the majority of them are in Vracar, where only reconstruction and minimal extension are allowed.

He also says that there is not plenty of information about the history of the salon apartments that are being sold.

– Few old owners are left. There are always stories, but no exact information. Simply, because it was all taken away, there were no traces left.

Russians not interested in salon apartments

We were also interested in learning whether Russians, who had been increasingly buying or renting real estate in Serbia since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, were interested in salon apartments.

The interviewee of eKapija answers that it is mostly not the case and explains that the Russians who are moving here now do belong to the intellectual elite, but that they are of a different profile and with different sentiments that the “white Russians” who came here following the October Revolution.

– This new wave cannot be compared with the arrival of the former Russian bourgeoisie. These are mostly highly educated, but younger people, who left new buildings and are looking for the same here, in modern, mostly large, closed complexes.

Salon apartments in Novi Sad bought by the diaspora

In Novi Sad, as Nenad Lazic, the sales manager at Solis Nekretnine, says for eKapija, salon apartments are offered for EUR 2,000 to 3,000 per square meter.

– There is always a demand for them, because salon apartments always have their value, especially here in Vojvodina. The purchasers are mostly natives of Vojvodina from the diaspora, who lived for generations in such apartments and who are now returning to them for sentimental reasons, but also lawyers and other wealthier citizens – our interviewee explains.

Lazic also says that the supply is lower than the demand and that Solis Nekretnine now only has around ten salon apartments in its offer, most of them in the inner and outer cores of Novi Sad.
(Photo: Tama66/Pixabay)

No buyers for pre-war villas

Miljkovic also points out that there is an excellent offer of quality villas in Belgrade, mostly in Vracar, that there is a demand too, but that the realization of sales is low.

– The problem are the prices, which are measured in millions, urban planning obstacles and, as is the case with salon apartments, the lack of garages, which cannot be made without jeopardizing the foundations. They are mostly sought for renting or demolition in order to raise buildings, but villas are mostly protected – extension is not allowed in either Dedinje, where there are plenty of villas in a bad condition, or in Vracar and parts of Vozdovac. That is why it is not profitable for investors to build anything there for the market.

Talking about the average prices, our interviewee says that, for example, in Neimar, a pre-war villa of 300 m2 on a plot of land of 4 ares costs EUR 1.4 million on average, whereas, in Vozdovac, in streets which can be compared to those in Dedinje, such as Koste Jovanovica Street, a villa of 350 m2 with a plot of land of 6 ares is offered for 1.5 million.

B. Petrovic

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