Kyiv Real Estate: Historical Buildings In Detail
For those who are unfamiliar with Kyiv real estate but want to invest here, it will be necessary to choose the ultimate investment path of “old” buildings or new ones. To weigh all the pros and cons, you need to get enough information about each way. In this article, we decided to start your acquaintance with the basics of the Kyiv old buildings and its main distinguishing features.
There are two basic types of “old” buildings– Pre-Revolutionary buildings (also known as Tsarist) and Stalin Era buildings. Both of them are mostly located in the center of the city.
Pre-revolutionary buildings (built before 1917) usually have thick brick walls. Apartments with high ceilings (up to 4.5 meters) initially consist of 5-6 rooms with up to 150m2 in size. After many tsarist buildings were renovated, they have one or two additional floors and elevators.
Stalin Era buildings (built from the 1920s to the 50s) are eight-story or more buildings. The apartments are smaller than in Pre-revolutionary buildings (up to 85m2 with 3-4 rooms). Still, the ceilings are also up to 4 meters, and walls are usually made from brick or concrete slab. The design in such buildings is classic and square-shaped, with roomy spaces, corridors, and stairwells.
The advantages of apartments in an older building seem apparent but bear repeating. These flats usually have top locations that offer the benefit of urban living to the dwellers who appreciate walkable neighborhoods. The construction of such apartments is reliable, layouts are spacious, and ceilings are much higher than in new buildings. The balconies and entrances look like a piece of art, and very thick walls provide the best heating and sound isolation. As a result, apartments in historical buildings after well-thought-out renovation can be rented out at the same price as in the best new buildings in Kyiv.
Nevertheless, it would be best to keep in mind that the utilities in the apartments are old, so there is a renovation risk. Some Pre-revolutionary buildings were reconstructed after WW2, the pipes in some of them have been renewed in the past 20 years. It will be necessary to find out if the building you consider still has its original wooden floor beams, sewage and water systems, and other utilities. When you privatize the attic and the roof, you need to think of the potential of asbestos exposure and take care of it as well.
To take care of all the utilities in your property and avoid issues in the future, thorough due diligence is necessary (check our post to find out how to do it correctly) before you buy it.
If you are buying a top floor apartment, it is better to make sure the water pressure is adequate and that the building has sufficient electrical load capacity for modern devices. If you are aware of these issues before buying, there will be some time to choose optimal engineering solutions to increase needed indicators.
Construction Works In Historical Buildings
All these investigations and procedures become Ukrainian owners’ weak spot – they are afraid of risks and expenses associated with repairing.
However, the whole renovation process is not that challenging and costly. Of course, you will need to find experienced and competent engineers and contractors who have previously worked with historical buildings. A specialized team will replace the floor beams, heating, pipes, and electrical wiring. They can also deal with reinforcing of load-bearing walls and the floor. It may sound complicated and expensive, but steel beams are enough to provide the necessary support. When one of our clients installed beams to support a load-bearing wall, it cost $2,000. To compare, in the U.S., the same work would cost about $14 000. That is another advantage of investing in older buildings in Ukraine – the cost of building materials, equipment, furniture, as well as the labor cost, is significantly lower than in Western countries.
When we talk about the pricing downtown, it can be especially confusing for the person unfamiliar with Kyiv’s market as it is highly inefficient, and price information is asymmetric.
In Kyiv, it is not possible to price the property in older buildings according to some template, which is both an opportunity and a challenge. It is best to discuss prices, referring to recent sales. Moreover, it is not enough to evaluate your budget with the apartment sales price as you need to consider its condition to calculate how much you will spend on the renovation.
For example, you can get an apartment in a Pre-revolutionary building for $1,500/m2, but spend another $1,000/m2, making a massive renovation. Or you can purchase a relatively renovated apartment for a higher price per meter, where the repair will cost you $500/m2.
Thus, buying a renovated apartment would cost $3,000+ per m2, but there is a high probability the design of the property won’t suit you and your future tenants (so renovation will be needed again).
After all, the best investment opportunities are apartments that haven’t been renewed for years, so that you can buy them for an attractive price. While local buyers keep rejecting older residences, they offer far-sighted investors an excellent opportunity for investments with lower costs compared to the Western market. Of course, you will need to evaluate the expenses for a future renovation and take renovation risks. But even considering them, it is possible to attain 10%+ yields as the rent for a property in a historical building in the center can be higher than for a new apartment with a smart approach.