In 2015, 135,000 properties were sold and bought in Hungary, a 20%-increase compared to the year before, and this year promises to be even busier. Many are capitalizing on the steep upward trends, from contractors to attorneys, and, naturally, real estate agents themselves.  

What is not so obvious is how lucrative the profession may turn out to be, and how easy it is to get started, says Dr. Márta Szabó, head of business and network development at OTP Ingatlanpont.

“Entrepreneurship, some financial reserves and a wide personal network should encourage anyone to open a real estate agency of their own,” she notes. “It is a misconception that setting up such a business is more costly than a short-term property investment. By investing the equivalent of the price of an apartment, you can open up to two to three offices.” Experience shows that such a firm can be up and running from scratch in just one or two months.

According to data from the Central Statistical Office (KSH), this is a typical SME genre. Some 95% of the around 30,000 active companies in the sector fall into the small- and mid-sized category and 60,000 people are employed by those firms. As Szabó explains to the Budapest Business Journal, after the recession hit, a process of consolidation took place, which resulted in the strengthening of those networks with stable backgrounds providing integrated real estate agency and financing services. “The price explosion of the past one-to-two years, the upswing of the market and the apartment building boom drew many back to the industry, ” she says.

OTP Ingatlanpont operates as many as 22 partner offices in its Budapest network; two new ones will start soon in Buda, and talks are under way about new openings not only in the capital, but also nationwide. Those interested in joining must be qualified for the job, but a partnership with a large network should allow them to gain the necessary qualifications at a cheaper rate.

Competition is fierce, though. According to KSH figures, six out of ten newly established real estate offices fail within two years of their foundation. It makes a huge difference to be part of a big network. “Clients and employees clearly show more trust toward a stable market player. New partners at OTP Ingatlanpont gain access to a sophisticated database, can participate in our in-house training and get to know the most effective sales methods through knowledge transfer,” Szabó adds.