We spoke to agent Lenka Duskova Munter about selling chateaux and castles in the Czech Republic.
Lenka Duskova Munter is a senior sales specialist for Luxent Exclusive Properties – a specialist luxury property agency based in the centre of Prague, Czech Republic.
Offering a range of properties for both sale and rent, Luxent has extensive experience with the buying and selling of historic properties.
For this reason we spoke with Lenka about the current market for chateaux and castles in the Czech Republic.
How many castles and chateaux do you currently have for sale?
I currently have four castles for sale and one castle as a non-public offer.
Do many 'true' castles come up for sale in the Czech Republic (e.g. medieval built for defence) or are most castles which come up for sale more recently built e.g. 17th/18th/19th century?
I would say most castles for sale were built in the 17th, 18th and even 19th centuries. In the 19th century, many castles were built to evoke a ‘romantic idea’ of the Middle Ages. A perfect example is the Jistebnice Chateau, built at the end of the 19th century in Tudor Gothic style. In the 19th century it was modern and trendy to build spacious villas similar to castles, especially among the bourgeoisie, which had romantic ideas about the aristocratic life of the Middle Ages. In other cases, some chateaux were built on the remains or ruins of medieval fortresses or castles. Some castles converted into chateaux bear traces of several historical epochs. An example of this is Starý Hrozňatov which is a romanticized medieval fortress built on a Gothic foundation. On the other hand some castles retain their original architectural form: Encovany castle is a pure example of the Rennaisance.
How is the wider property market performing in the Czech Republic?
The market has been consistent in recent years, although the churn in the market has increased, especially in 2020 as a result of COVID. I have more properties for sale and more inquires about properties than before, but with a backdrop of greater market uncertainty.
Who is buying castles and chateaux in the Czech Republic? Mainly domestic buyers or buyers from other countries?
It is 50/50. Those Czechs interested in purchasing castles have made a lot of money (often quite quickly) and care about status, prestige, but also about art and saving monuments. Among foreign purchasers, some have ethnic tie to the Czech Republic and want to return, either permanently or part-time. There are also wealthy foreigners who understand the value and the attraction of these properties and appreciate the Czech Republic's location in the heart of Europe. They are aware that many of these historical properties show enormous potential.
Is the buying process straightforward for other nationalities or are there restrictions or difficulties when they want to buy?
There are no laws preventing foreigners for purchasing properties in the Czech Republic.
Are there government grants offered to people who renovate historic properties?
There are different kinds of grants for the preservation and renovation of properties under historical protection. There are government grants, regional grants provided by municipalities, grants of the Ministry of Regional Development, grants by the Ministry of Culture, and others. Once a property is purchased, the new owner can apply for such grants. In some cases, previously existing grants can be transferred to the new owner. If there is a project aimed at a specific business plan for a castle, the purchaser can apply to the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture or other relevant ministries. There are also numerous subsidies and programs supported by the European Union as well as supranational authorities which support the preservation of monuments.
Do people buy castles in the Czech Republic as a single residence or for other purposes e.g. to use as a hotel, to split into apartments, for a corporate headquarters, vineyards etc?
Potential purchasers of castles in the Czech Republic have a wide variety of plans: private residences, business headquarters, hotels with spas, and other purposes as well. For example, potential purchasers have shown interest in developing vineyards, agricultural initiatives, or luxury sanitoriums.
Is financing difficult to arrange for historic properties?
Financing is available, but of course depends on the solvency of the owner. In an ideal case the owner has their own resources and can afford to build with their own funds and without limits. The advantage is clear: during the reconstruction of the historical building there are always unexpected expenses in excess of the original budgets during the construction. If the financing of the reconstruction is from several sources, accounting becomes much more complex as numerous entities need to be informed. Self-financing avoids these difficulties.
Is finance difficult to arrange for other nationalities?
For buyers from another country, conditions for financing are identical to those for Czechs. Foreign investors should ideally have a local person who is familiar with and oriented about the situation and options, who can help with the authorities and help with grants.
For overseas buyers of all types of properties in the Czech Republic (not just castles) which nationalities do you deal with most frequently?
We are dealing mostly with Germans, Austrians, Slovaks, Italians, Brits, some Russians, then also some non-European customers like Australians, North Americans (USA and Canada) and Israelis. Chinese were very common years ago. They were very interested in historical properties – especially fully equipped with historical furniture and arts – however Chinese interest has fallen off significantly recently.
If someone wants to buy a castle in need of restoration or upgrading, are you able to assist with providing the relevant contacts e.g. construction companies, specialist restorers etc?
Yes. The Czech Republic is blessed with talented craftsmen and anyone seeking to restore a historical property can find companies and individuals who can carry this out with great skill at a reasonable price.
Does the Czech property market offer much better value than other better known markets – e.g. Italy, France and what other benefits are there of buying a castle in the Czech Republic?
We bring to the market many opportunities because the Czech Republic, unlike western European countries, has properties that have been preserved but were not available during the communist period. Moreover the skilled craftsmen who can transform this kind of property into luxury living are remarkably talented and quite reasonably priced in comparison to most western countries.
For buyers of historic and luxury properties, which are the best areas to consider outside Prague?
I would say that there are opportunities throughout Bohemia. It’s a beautiful setting, with striking historical buildings scattered throughout the territory. There are especially plentiful examples of exciting historical castles in the former borderlands with Germany and Austria.
About Lenka Duskova Munter
Is it exciting to get an interesting historic property, such as a castle, listed for sale?
Absolutely! It is an exciting challenge to explore the subject of sale, prepare a presentation, and later, with the final client to see how a property can be not only a successful investment, but an aesthetic triumph.
For how long have you been in the property market?
I have been in the property market for a dozen years.
What's your background? How did you get into the property market?
I started to devote myself to real estate immediately after I left my position at a prominent Czech commercial gallery of modern art, where I managed a pilot project ‘Art for Office Building and Corporate Clients’. At the gallery I started to cooperate with Czech and foreign developers operating in the Czech Republic and with Czech and foreign artists, as well as with architects. I came to this field naturally, by way of an economic education and business experience complemented by a study of art history. I have an educational background not only in economics, but also in the history of art and architecture, and have always had strong interest in historical architecture and urbanism. When selling a property, I draw in my presentations from historical building surveys, if available, or from sources related to historic architectural styles. I like to think that I offer a good balance of value and style to my clients.
What's the most interesting property sale you/your agency have been involved with?
I was fortunate enough to sell a Baroque castle in Central Bohemia that was in need of renovation but well preserved. I was able with the buyers not only to make the sale, but also to come up with the plan for a renovation which has been enormously successful.