Vilnius
© Kontis Šatūnas

Having purchased or owning real estate in the Old Town of Vilnius, Naujamiestis, Žvėrynas, Užupis, or Antakalnis neighbourhood does not guarantee a carefree life in a great neighbourship, neither does it ensure the high value of your estate.

Real estate experts reveal that the names of these neighbourhoods, even if highly regarded as prestigious, do not indicate luxury or a good life. There is a well-known saying that describes the real estate market: there is no same street, just like there is no same house.

Having purchased a dwelling in one of the prestigious neighborhoods, people might be forced to face residents that they had not expected to live in close proximity to, or find themselves confronted by other unanticipated issues.

Real estate (RE) agency RE/MAX Collection has created a useful tool for those who are looking for or wishing to evaluate their property in the previously mentioned prestigious neighbourhoods.

The compiled map shows the location of the most luxurious houses or apartment blocks as well as the lower value real estate within the neighbourhood.

Star based rating system

Company RE/MAX RE broker Jevgenij Funikov said that the rating was necessary in order for the most attractive places in the prestigious areas to be distinguished.

'We put a team together and started exploring the prestigious neighbourhoods like Senamiestis, Žvėrynas, Užupis, Antakalnis, some areas of Naujamiestis, and Laurų kvartalas. We went bike riding there, took photographs, did property evaluations, and gathered information by talking to the current owners. Later we met up, decided on the number of stars to give to certain properties; giving reasons why one is worth three stars and the other- one,' said he.

The agency has decided to apply the star based rating system. Three stars were given to a particularly exclusive and valuable piece of property, and one star for a less luxurious one.

'Properties were evaluated using the same criteria in every neighbourhood; however the weight of the particular criteria in different neighbourhoods had been greater than in others. For example, if the property is in Senamiestis, one of the main criterion was a place to park a car. Architectural value was also very important. For instance, there are no issues with parking in Valakampiai.

Approximate price of RE in the most luxurious neighbourhoods per square meter- 4500-6000 EUR

Although the house is located in a prestigious area, the facade could be morally out-dated thus drastically diminishing the architectural value. Other criterion include the proximity to the Green parking zone, presence of a storage space, private courtyard, overall safety, etc.' – named Jevgenij.

Since there is a variety of apartments in the same apartment complex ranging from luxurious to the ones reminiscing the Soviet era, J. Funikov reveals how they were valued, 'If there is at least one well-furnished apartment which can be considered to be of the highest class, we rated the building well. We understand that the person who is going to buy an apartment in that particular building will decorate and furnish the place as he or she pleases, and so both the inside as well as the outside will look great. '

Having evaluated the RE applying the previously mentioned criterion, it became clear that, for example the most luxurious property in Žvėrynas is on Birutės Street. The most exquisite real estate in Vilnius is situated on Gaono St., Stiklių St., Pilies St., Bokšto St., Didžioji St., Aušros vartų St., Subačiaus St. and part of Gediminas Avenue. The price per square meter in the above mentioned locations could be as high as 4500 euro.

Helps fighting with unrealistic whims of the customers

While the team was collecting the information on the neighbourhoods, J. Funikov was most and unpleasantly surprised by Valakampiai. 'Valakampiai does not automatically mean that the real estate is going to be luxurious. There are many large, shabby wooden houses, the value of which could raise questions. The area around the train station is going through resurgence; however, it was not added to the map as nothing of significant value had been found there.

Actually, we rediscovered Vilnius in Senamiestis. There are so many tiny streets hiding small terraced houses with their private courtyards. You would not even imagine such cosy houses existed,' said he. What is more, the map compiled by the agency aids the real estate agents themselves, 'We often encounter clients wanting something that is hard to imagine, or does not even exist in a particular area. For example, a huge apartment with private courtyard, two-story underground car park, and windows facing all directions. It is surprisingly difficult to prove that such an apartment at the desired location, for example Stiklių Street does not exist, though it does exist in a different area, for instance on Šventųjų or Šiaulių St. Nevertheless, selling luxurious pieces of property in prestigious areas is not that easy. Sometimes that might take several years. J. Funikov still remembers the most exquisite apartment he has ever had to sell.

'That was the most spectacular apartment in my whole career. A real penthouse on the last, the eighth, floor of the building located on Tauras hill (Taurakalnis). 360- degree view through the windows; underground parking spots right next to the elevator, which takes you straight up to the apartment. You do not need a door, neither a key. Just enter the code and you are home. Once you are inside, you can see the fanciest interior elements; furniture, ordered from companies designing furniture exclusively for the most famous hotels. There was also a sauna and three huge balconies,' – shares his memories Jevgenij.

A few years ago the list price for an apartment like that one was 3.9 million litas . However, it was not sold. 'A buyer appeared in about a year. There were more buyers, in fact, but the mentioned one offered an adequate price which was only 200 thousand less than the owner had originally asked for. It was clear that the owner was fine with the offer, yet still decided not to sell it as he did not know what to do with the money. So the decision was made to keep that apartment as a unique estate, some sort of attribute of prestige,' – tells Jevgenij.

Luxurious apartment with social housing underneath it.

The co-owner of the luxury real estate agency Baltic Sotheby's International Realty Paulius Gebrauskas confirms that a prestigious location is not everything. 'Everyone emphasizes the main criterion to be location, location, and location again. We take location as one of the main and most important criterion but not as the only one. Today the most luxurious properties are considered those separately formed and very private communities having good infrastructure and great neighbourship. Great examples could be Laurų or Gulbinų kvartalas,' says he. Exclusive private blocks in good location like those represent life of the highest quality.

'That ensures the neighbourship is ship shape and that is incredibly important. When we started working in Lithuania four and a half years ago, we found really beautiful and impressive pieces of RE in the older historical houses in Vilnius but we faced a problem, for example that there was social housing on the first few floors of the building and so the neighbourship is completely inadequate, though, the dwelling itself is renovated and with full finish. The stairwell is often untidy in such apartment buildings and there are lots of other issues, so it cannot be labelled as luxurious,' explains Gebrauskas.

Most of the buildings like that one were discovered by the agency in Senamiestis (the Old Town), especially on J.Basanavičius St. P.Gebrauskas points out that although the neighbourhood around the train station is said to be going through resurgence, neighbourship there is still complicated, 'We do not see too many new and exclusive projects being developed in the area. Particularly challenging is the end of Raugyklos Street. There is a lot to be done there.

Naujamiestis, on the other hand, has a great chance of becoming one of the prestigious neighbourhoods, 'It is dynamic and showing lots of potential. For instance, there are ambitious new construction projects being planned for Vingrių and Mindaugo Street; the area around the Modern Art centre which is being built at the moment. The neighbourhood is improving and people are less and less afraid of choosing homes in this part of Vilnius which less than five years ago was feared of.'

The top neighbourhoods in Vilnius are closed and almost impossible for outsiders to get a glimpse of. These housing developments are distinguished by unique, creative and previously unseen design solutions.

Let's take 'Jogailos rezidencija' located on Jogailos St. Together with the property developers we were brainstorming what could be offered to the residents and came up with the idea of a leisure area with a library for them to sit down and relax. That's an unprecedented apartment complex in Lithuania previously only seen abroad. The most extravagant project ever would be Grafų Pilaterių palace on Bokšto Street. It is currently coming closer to the finish line and will be completed this year. There has not been anything like this project before: three-storey underground parking, fully enclosed courtyard where one can find fountains, galleries as well as restored small architectural pieces,' he says. Property price reaches up to 6000 euros per square meter

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