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House Hunting in … Austria

Category: Lifestyle,Travel

This five-bedroom duplex apartment is on the top two floors of the five-story Palais Corbelli-Schoeller, a 17th-century palace in the historic Innere Stadt district of Vienna, Austria’s capital and largest city. It is one of two penthouse apartments in the building, the rest of which is occupied by IES Abroad, a college-level study-abroad program, said the listing agent, Elisabeth Wiederkehr, of Engel & Völkers.

Constructed in the building’s attic in 2008, the 5,200-square-foot unit has a private, 540-square-foot rooftop terrace with views of the Vienna skyline, which is dominated by the Gothic towers of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna and one of the city’s most prominent landmarks.

The apartment is reached by elevator. The living areas, bedrooms and four bathrooms are all on the first level, which measures about 4,100 square feet. The modern, loft-style space has an open floor plan, with vaulted ceilings and heated oak floors that can be controlled using the apartment’s smart-home system. (The smart-home features also allow sound, light and an alarm system to be controlled using a mobile device.) The slanted wall running the length of the apartment is formed by the building’s roof and lined with large windows that open electronically.

The living room has a linear gas fireplace built into the wall. The dining area is on the other side of the main space, with a table that seats 12 and an adjacent built-in bar that seats three. The kitchen has sleek white cabinets and stainless-steel Gaggenau appliances. There is a second small kitchen in the staff quarters, which has two bedrooms and a bathroom, Ms. Wiederkehr said.

The master suite has walk-in closets, a home cinema system with a retractable screen and a bathroom with a whirlpool tub and sauna. An additional two bedrooms (one styled as a child’s room) and two bathrooms complete the floor.

A wooden staircase leads up to a 1,000-square-foot gallery currently used as a work space, Ms. Wiederkehr said.

Palais Corbelli-Schoeller is in the First District of Vienna, also known as the Innere Stadt, an upscale area with many of the city’s most prestigious addresses and historic attractions. The district is popular with tourists, thanks to its shops, restaurants and ornate buildings dating to Vienna’s imperial past, including museums, theaters and cathedrals. The building is a short walk from the Vienna State Opera, as well as two public parks and the Karntner Strasse, the well-known shopping corridor. Vienna International Airport is a 20-minute drive southeast, along the Danube River.

Residential prices in Austria have been on the rise for at least five years, a streak that continued in the third quarter of 2018 with an increase of 8 percent over the previous year, according to data from Oesterreichische Nationalbank, Austria’s central bank. In Vienna, where prices have been on a steady incline, though at a slower pace than in the country overall, prices were up 6.5 percent from 2017 to 2018.

The bank attributes the robust housing market to income growth, low unemployment and an optimistic economic outlook. Vienna has also been buoyed by its ranking, for 10 consecutive years, as the city with the world’s highest quality of living, according to Mercer, a global human resources consulting firm.

“That’s quite substantial for us,” said Christian Sommer, a managing partner at the Vienna office of Engel & Völkers. “We use it for international clients to emphasize the living quality here. It’s a compact city with a lot of history, a big cultural aspect, and 30 minutes out of the city you’re in pure nature.”

The central Innere Stadt (German for “inner city”) is the most expensive of the city’s 23 districts, with condominium prices starting at around 7,000 euros a square meter (about $730 a square foot) and ranging up to 32,000 euros as square meter ($3,340 a square foot), said Richard Buxbaum, the head of residential property at the Vienna-based agency Otto Immobilien.

The district has seen considerable development recently, both renovations and new construction.

“There are lots of projects on the market, by developers from Austria, Eastern Europe and the Middle East,” Mr. Buxbaum said, citing the Palais Schottenring, a belle epoque building by Wilhelm Fraenkel that has been refurbished, and Börseplatz 1, a former telegraph center converted to luxury apartments, as examples.

Vienna’s “greener” sections are the 13th through 19th districts, on the city’s western side, with the 19th being the most expensive in that area, Mr. Buxbaum said. There, a “super prime” penthouse can fetch 13,000 euros a square meter ($1,350 a square foot). Villas in the 18th and 19th districts sell for around 2.3 million euros ($2.6 million) on average.

Foreign buyers are often seeking to buy “solid investment stock” they can rent, rather than high-end luxury properties, said Alex Koch de Gooreynd, a partner at Knight Frank who works in the international residential sales team. Those apartments tend to be in the 300,000 to 1 million euro range ($335,000 to $1.1 million), he said.

With a population of roughly 1.9 million, Vienna is primarily a city of renters, largely because of its substantial investment in subsidized housing for its lower- and middle-class residents. Among the roughly 900,000 households in Vienna, approximately 600,000 are renting, Mr. Sommer said.

Most foreign buyers are from Germany, as it is Austria’s primary business partner and shares a language, Mr. Sommer said, adding that buyers also come from other nearby countries, including Switzerland, Italy and Hungary.

Middle Eastern buyers, frequently from Dubai, are increasingly drawn to the city as a safe place to spend the summer season, Mr. Koch de Gooreynd said.

In the desirable Innere Stadt, only about 10 percent of buyers are foreign, according to a report by Otto Immobilien.

Foreign buyers from outside the European Union must apply for a special permit from the Austrian land transfer authorities granting permission to acquire real estate. The conditions those buyers must meet differ from province to province, but all must provide proof that Austria is their primary place of residence.

Non-E.U. foreign buyers seeking a vacation home or investment property typically set up a company to buy property, Mr. Koch de Gooreynd said. The transaction must be handled by a notary, and an application to register the sale must be filed with the Austrian land registry.

“Everything is regulated through the registry,” Mr. Sommer said. “It makes it easy for anyone from abroad — you can see who the owner of a property is, the correct size of the apartment and so on. It is security for the buyer.”

German; euro (1 euro = $1.12)

Transaction costs usually total about 10 percent of the sale price, Mr. Buxbaum said. They include a transfer tax of 3.5 percent of the sale price, a 1.1 percent land registry fee, an agent’s fee of about 3 percent, and lawyer and notary fees.

There are no property taxes on this apartment, Ms. Wiederkehr said.

Elisabeth Wiederkehr, Engel & Völkers Vienna, 011-43-1961-5000; engelvoelkers.com

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