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EBI survey finds mixed results for construction in Q4 2019

The latest EBI Construction Activity Report, shows the lowest construction figures in many areas in the past three years in Hungary.

The declines are seen in the number of launched construction projects, where the drop in 2019 was 21%; the 2018 figures, by comparison, had seen 11% growth compared to 2017. 

The activity report, prepared by Buildecon, Eltinga (which created the search algorithms) and ibuild.info (responsible for project research and project database) states that there was a lower value of started construction works in Q4 2019 than in the previous quarter.

The calculations made by ibuild.info project database show that the latest numbers are significantly (15%) below the data from 2018. The 2019 results were also less than those from 2017.

The decline in construction can be explained by the shrinkage of multi-unit housing projects and non-residential construction projects (albeit the latter showing a less intensive decrease).

Civil engineering also left much to be desired in Q4, despite strong growth from April until September 2019. The fourth quarter of 2019 recorded the lowest results since Q4 2016 and were one-third of the value of Q3.

Overall, looking at projects launched, 2019 saw a 30% decline compared to 2018, and a 20% drop against 2017. The report does point out, however, that the figures for 2019 should not be considered extremely low; the results for 2017-2018 were rather exceptional.

There was a major decline in the launch of railway projects, with only 11% entering the construction phase. Road construction recorded a smaller decline than rail compared to the past two years and a surpass of the years prior.

As for the leading regions, Eastern Hungary experienced a decline in started projects both in Q3 and Q4, thereby offsetting the high share it saw in H1 2019. Central Hungary experienced quite the opposite: from a lower base in H1, compared to the previous years, H2 saw much stronger growth. The end of the preferential 5% VAT rate on new house builds back to the normal rate of 27% also brought a noticeable drop in the construction of multi-unit dwellings, by 39% nationwide.

Nationally, only 44% of the total investment value came from multi-unit homes; in Central Hungary, the share was 52%. Both numbers show a significant downturn comparing to the previous years.

A different situation was evident in hotel construction, with the Q4 report seeing record-breaking construction launched. Compared to 2017 and 2018, the increase equaled 77% and 83%, respectively. Most projects (52%) were registered in Budapest.

The number of health-related constructions started was much lower than in 2018. Plans for the completion of health-related projects in 2020 should, however, exceed the previous year. They include Phase I of Buda Hospital of the Hospitaller Order and five rural hospitals in Pápa, Kisvárda, Hatvan, Aszód, and Kistarcsa.

The start of construction other types of buildings, such as cultural, sports and other community buildings, broke all records in 2019. The EBI Activity Start indicator surpassed the 2018 record by 25%. The number of completed facilities saw an increase of 68% over 2018 and 47% over 2017.  

More information on the Q4 results can be found in the original article in Hungarian by Tünde Tancsics (of Eltinga), or in English version by Eszter Falucskai (Buildecon).