REAL ESTATE BOOM TOWN Rough Guide to Kyiv Property for 2011, Region by Region

Ukraine is fast becoming as famous for its sky-rocketing property market as it for the Orange Revolution and the Klitschko boxing brothers, with real estate prices quite capable of jumping by 10% or more in the space of a single month. Many people have been tempted to take the plunge and invest in this seemingly win-win market, but with so much on offer and thousands of different agents and brokers looking to make that sale, what should the discerning would-be property magnate be looking for, and more importantly, where should they try to buy their new apartment? What’s On looks at the pitfalls of the market and offers an overview of the Ukrainian capital’s real estate market options, region by region.

Location, location, location! Like every city Kyiv’s regions vary enormously in terms of facilities, prestige, and desirability, with prices reflecting this accordingly. Here are the average top-end prices for one square meter of floor space in an apartment block in each of the Ukrainian capital’s ten administrative districts. Please note that within each district prices will also vary significantly.

Kyiv apartment buildings can be divided into a number of general categories. Tsarist buildings are those constructed during the later years of the Russian Empire, i.e. pre-1914. These tend to offer exceptionally high ceilings but poor communications and often lack lifts and other facilities. Stalinki buildings are those constructed in the post-war years, and again they tend to be rather grand but poorly equipped. Khruschevki buildings are those put up during the 1950s during the reign of Nikita Khruschev, and originally meant as a temporary solution to post-war housing shortages. Panel buildings are the nine and sixteen floor structures that were erected in the 1970s and 1980s using prefabricated materials. While these are the most modern of the Soviet structures, they lack the quality of the Stalinki buildings. Last but not least are the plethora of new apartment buildings that have sprung up all over Kyiv since independence. These vary enormously in quality but in general tend to offer far better facilities and layout, with the added bonus of car parking space and other amenities. However this added convenience does not come cheap, and there have been examples of outrageous prices for parking places rising to as much as 80,000 dollars, making them more expensive per square meter than the apartment that went with it! As a rule apartments located in new buildings will cost around 20% more than those in older buildings. First-time buyers looking for a brand new apartment should be wary of purchasing something in an unfinished construction. There have been a number of scams in recent years where villains posing as property developers have gathered together large sums of money for soon-to-be-ready apartments only to leave the country with the proceeds, leaving the potential homeowners destitute and in many cases homeless. Many are still tempted to take the chance, as prices in unfinished buildings are considerably lower than those which are ready to inhabit, but What’s On readers should exercise caution and as a bare minimum investigate the background of the construction company, checking their track record and identifying buildings they have already completed in Kyiv. It is also worth bearing in mind that many new buildings may look light years ahead of the grey and relatively drab Soviet structures that surround them, but this in itself does not guarantee quality, and many residents in new buildings have complained that they are poorly insulated or otherwise disappointing. With so many buyers scrambling to gain a foothold on the property ladder and ever-rising prices the question arises as to whether the Kyiv market is likely to face a crash at some point in the not too distant future. The short answer is that with the Ukrainian economy booming and wealth flowing in from the regions, notably the Donbass Party of the Regions heartlands, there is unlikely to be a collapse in prices anytime soon. It is certainly true that many of those buying Kyiv apartments do so as an investment rather than for residential purposes, with some industry insiders putting the figure for investments as high as 40% to 60% of all purchases, which increases the danger of a sudden rush on property prices should a lull in the market persuade investors that the market has peaked and cause a panic, but for the time being the boom looks set to continue thanks to the traditional Ukrainian disregard for political turmoil.

Kyiv’s elite Pechersk region encapsulates central Kyiv from Khreschatyk to the river, and includes the ukrainian parliament and the government quarter. This is the place to live if you are keen on rubbing shoulders with the great and the good of the country’s business and political leadership, and like all exclusive locales it is itself divided into a hierarchy of its own. Top of the list is Lypky, the most expensive address in the whole of Ukraine. One square meter of apartment space in this area will set you back anything from 7000 to 17000 dollars, with the highly controversial giant structure in Mariyinskiy Park currently selling for 25000 dollars per square meter, making it the single most expensive building to live in the entire country. Big spenders looking to break into the Lypky league can at least rest assured that they are unlikely to have problems with the city authorities, as many of them will be neighbours, as will half the top-end staff of the Presidential Administration and enough parliament deputies to form your on coalition. As Lypky is an historic part of town there are precious few new buildings here, with most being sturdy Stalinki renovated in some style. The only slight downside is that parking can be something of a problem given all those luxury sedans and SUV convoys. Elsewhere in Pechersk there is a cluster of attractive new buildings dominating the skyline up on Lesya Ukrainka close to the Central Election Commission where a square meter is available for the relatively competitive rate of 6000 dollars. These new buildings offer excellent views, although if you want to gain a foothold on the higher floors you will have to pay extra, and there is no guarantee that a newer, taller structure will not appear next year blocking your access to the stunning Dnipro panorama. For those looking for a quieter life among the stars the only place is Tsar’s Village (‘Tsarskoe Silo’), located snugly behind the Iron Lady WWII monument. Here the apartment buildings of downtown Kyiv give way to a haven of tranquility in the middle of the city made up of individual houses. Such convenience does not come cheap, however, with plots starting at between 80,000 and 120,000 dollars for a hundred square meters.

If Pechersk is the equivalent of the Monopoly Board Game’s dark blue top prize, then Shevchenkivski is the exclusive dark green nearby. The region stretches from Khreschatyk up and away from the city centre along Prospekt Peremohy incorporating historic central Kyiv and many of the capital’s business districts. Much like Pechersk the region can be sub-divided into a range of areas, with the downtown streets of Bohdan Khmelnitskiy, Yaroslaviv Val, Zoloti Vorota, Volodymyrska and Prorisna topping the list of most sought after and expensive addresses. Here a square meter will cost anything from 7000 to 10,000 dollars, with the most desirable spots going for considerably more. The most expensive spots are Volodymyrska street, Sofiyevska Square or close to St. Andriyivska church, with prices as high as 18,000 dollars per square meter. A number of Ukraine’s top movers and shakers including Forbes five hundred alumni Rinat Akhmetov and Viktor Pinchuk are said to have made this part of town their home, and with far more in terms of leisure facilities than Lypky it makes up for in infrastructure what it lacks in good old peace and quiet. Beyond the rich pickings of downtown Shevchenkivski the region tails off somewhat, with housing changing from Tsarist and Stalinski buildings to more run of the mill Khruschevkas as you move along Prospekt Peremohy, and prices vary accordingly, dropping down to the Kyiv rock bottom rate of 3000 dollars per square metre. Many people still favour this area as it has excellent access to the city centre and can allow residents to be downtown in a matter of minutes.

The downtown end of the Goloseyivski region incorporates much of Red Army Street (Chervonoarmiska) and neighbouring Gorky Street, and would correspond to the Monopoly Board Game’s affluent yellow properties, offering famous locations within the price range of mere mortals, with prices topping the 6000 to 8000 dollars per square meter mark. As you reach the end of Red Army Street prices drop and quality falls off accordingly, not least because the mega-congested Moscow square with its busy Central Bus Terminal offers round the clock traffic and plenty of pollution. Further from the centre the greenery of Goloseyivski park offers some relief from the smog of the city, and prices are slightly higher to reflect this increased appeal, starting at 4000 dollars per square meter. Transport connections to the city centre are not very convenient, and as you get to the outer lying areas of Goloseyivski you become positively estranged from the downtown area and can face daily hikes of something like one hour to get to work and back, which is something worth considering before snapping up a park side retreat. This region does also offer the opportunity of buying up plots of land to build your own house, which is an increasingly popular option among many Kyivites looking to kick the soviet habit of apartment dwelling. A plot of land in the Goloseyivski region will cost 40000 to 70000 for one hundred square meters, but will have the additional benefit of being urban yet located in a relatively picturesque part of town. The southern end of Goloseyivski region leads out to the old and new Obuhovska freeways which take you towards the luxurious million dollar homes of some of Ukraine’s great public figures and business leaders.

Located towards the city limits on the road out to Lviv and West Ukraine, this region boasts a plethora of universities and institutes together with their accompanying student population, which combine to give Svetoshinski a somewhat youthful feel. The region is located along Prospekt Peremohy which provides excellent transport links with the centre of town, and this has attracted a growing number of young professionals over the past few years, although the standard of housing remains fairly rudimentary, hence the low 3000 dollars per square meter prices for a spot in one of the many Kruschevkas that litter the area. An apartment in a new building will cost you slightly more, retailing at 4000 to 5000 per square meter.

Located down by the river in the historic part of Kyiv that used to serve as the mercantile quarter, Podilska is a region of contrasts, offering quaint riverside locations and grand old architecture but also suffering from some of the worst traffic congestion and pollution in the city. The streets tend to be narrow and are often further hampered by the presence of tram lines, many of which have been out of use for years. The historic part of Podil which is located closest to the city centre is lined with little architectural gems and is arguably one of the most picturesque areas in Kyiv, with the most desirable location being Andriyivskiy itself, where apartment space will cost something in the region of 10,000 dollars a square meter, although such real estate opportunities are in very short supply. Parking can be a major problem here, as is traffic congestion, but the proximity of the river does much to compensate for the relatively high level of pollution caused by exhaust fumes and the high concentration of industry in the vicinity. For something truly unusual you might want to consider investing in the Vozhdizhenko development, which is located ‘in the hole’ between Andriyivskiy Uzviz and the fabled Bald Hill. This valley floor construction consists of brightly coloured ‘club houses’ each containing four to eight apartments, and although the views are not particularly breath-taking this is certainly one of the more original property opportunities in the Ukrainian capital. The unspoken border between upmarket and downscale Podilska is Shevchenko Metro station, and beyond this marker prices drop off immediately, with real estate becoming limited to Soviet-era buildings available for 4000 dollars or thereabouts. This area shares the disadvantages of the more upmarket Podil and additionally has to put up with a large number factories and workshops which lend the area a grimy, industrial feel.

Tucked slightly out from the city centre away from Shevchenkivski and Pechersk regions, Solomenski is a downmarket option with a drab feel that is not helped by the presence of lots of polluting industry and one of Kyiv’s largest cemeteries. In general the region has yet to feel the full effects of the Kyiv real estate boom and is dominated by 1950s to 1980s soviet-era buildings which are currently priced towards the 4000 to 5000 dollars per square meter bracket. The region does boast a significant housing sector or dachas and individual dwellings that runs along Red Star Prospekt, where a plot of land can be bought for anything from 35,000 to 60,000 dollars per hundred square meters. the price may well depend on who you are buying from, with the practice of buying land at knockdown rates from elderly couples or pension-age widows is all too common.

If you are not going to opt for a downtown investment then the smart money says that the next best thing is a riverside residence, and that means Obolonski. Situated to the north of the city, this region is relatively new and has mushroomed in recent years, with the elite ‘Obolonski Lypky’ borrowing the name and alluding to the prestige of its famous Kyiv namesake. Here you’ll find excellent facilities and, unlike the vast majority of Kyiv’s outer regions, plenty to do in your free time as well, with health clubs, business centres, restaurants and other leisure facilities aplenty, as well as miles of sandy beaches and stunning views of the Dnipro itself. Considering the current vogue for Obolonski Lypky among the Ukrainian capital’s emerging post-Orange generation prices remain surprisingly competitive, with apartments in the new buildings lining the riverbank available for 4000 to 5000 dollars per square meter, while a place in one of the more exclusive ‘Club houses’ that offer a bit more privacy can be had for around the 6000 to 9000 dollars per square meter mark. Away from the delights of ‘Obolonski Lypky’ prices drop down to the levels that you will find all over Kyiv’s ubiquitous ‘sleeping city’, with prices for apartments in Soviet-era constructions starting at 3000 dollars per square meter.

Kyiv’s left bank is still relatively underdeveloped and short of facilities, hence it remains widely known as the capital’s great ‘sleeping city’. Darnitski might well be the best bet for anyone looking to gamble on a new property on the left bank, as it incorporates the sprawling new Kharkivski housing development, lies along the road to Kyiv’s international airport, and will at some point in the next ten years become home to the Ukrainian capital’s long-planned second main railway terminal. This part of the left bank has seen some of the heaviest property speculation of all over the past few years, with literally hundreds of new buildings attracting investors who have often bought up two, three or more apartments in construction sites during the construction process itself. some property experts think this makes the region more susceptible than others to a sudden slump, but as long as the overall trend for growth continues it looks like the best bet on the other side of the river.

Situated directly across from Kyiv’s rolling green hills, this region is straight out of the soviet urban planning handbook, with waterways for the happy comrades to stroll along and high rise buildings thrown up in a hurry. It is considered to be a particularly clean part of Kyiv, thanks to the close proximity of the sprawling mid-river island nature reserves of Gydropark and Truhaniv Island, which help keep the air nice and fresh all year rounds. The area also benefits from direct access to Kyiv’s best bridge (Most Patoniv) which allows for speedy access to the city centre. Potential purchases are largely limited to 1950s to 1980s Soviet structures, where an apartment will currently cost you 3000 to 4000 dollars per square meter, while a spot in one of the new buildings will be slightly pricier at 5000 dollars a square meter.

Arguably the Ukrainian capital’s least attractive region, this spot is considered Kyiv’s crime capital, and its location far over on the outer reaches of the left bank makes it just about as distant as it is possible to be without leaving the city limits. The area is dominated by poor quality Soviet structures, lacks a decent transport infrastructure and has no real leisure facilities tro speak of. Prices reflect this, with the lowest rates in Kyiv in effect, meaning that at 2500 dollars per square meter you can take your pick.

With thanks to Juliana Kobzeva and Ruslan Suchkov of Parker and
Obonensky Quality Real Estate (www.parker-obolensky.com)




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