The Ukrainian refugee crisis puts pressure on the housing market in Europe

Ukrainian refugees walk on the platform after arriving by train from Odessa at Przemysl Glowny station, after fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Przemysl, Poland April 10, 2022. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

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  • About 4.5 million people flee the war in Ukraine, more than half to Poland
  • Polish rental market already short of 0.5 million apartments, prices are rising
  • The German and Czech markets are also experiencing an increase in demand

BERLIN, April 12 (Reuters) – Ukrainian refugees fleeing war have been hospitably received across Europe, but the longer they stay, the more their presence may exacerbate pressures on housing prices in host countries like Ukraine. Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.

More than half of the 4.5 million people who have left since the February 24 Russian invasion have gone to neighboring Poland, which was already home to the region’s largest Ukrainian diaspora.

Marcin Janczuk, of local property company Metrohouse Franchise, said Poland’s commercial housing market should immediately expand by half a million apartments to meet the needs of the refugees who have arrived so far.

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“We estimate that in the biggest cities (in Poland) rent prices are currently about 20% higher than at the beginning of the year,” Janczuk said, adding that the influx of refugees was only one of the many reasons for the growth.

European nations mainly support Kyiv against Moscow and have shown solidarity with the refugees, finding them free or cheap accommodation in private homes and emergency accommodation, and promising help with jobs and schools. Most are women, children and the elderly, as the men under 60 stay to fight.

“I feel nocturnal waves of gratitude for the fact that I got to know Peter and Yulia,” said refugee Yulia Sarycheva, who has taken refuge in a family’s apartment in Prague.

Yet as the war drags on, it is unclear when refugees might return or what condition their homes will be in when possible, so the need for longer-term housing plans increases.


Sebastian Wunsch, from housing research institute GEWOS, said demand in Germany could increase by around 200,000 to 400,000 apartments due to the influx of Ukrainian refugees, most of them in already overcrowded cities.

After Germany took in 1 million refugees during the 2015 refugee crisis, new rents rose slightly faster by 3.5% in 2015-2018, compared to 2.5% in 2011-2014, a-t -he declares.

The number of refugees Germany took in was around one-eightieth of the population, but Poland has already crossed the 1/15th threshold, as Europe debates the fairest way to distribute the influx of Ukrainians. Read more

The Czech government estimates that more than 300,000 Ukrainian refugees have entered the country of 10.7 million people.

Estate agents are reporting booming rental demand there.

“Growth is multiple,” Artem Egorov Pozo-Sandoval told the Chirs agency.

While adding to existing pressures on house prices and rentals, the data shows that refugees ultimately benefit the economies of host countries as they fill labor shortages, establish businesses and contribute to tax revenue.

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Reporting by Zuzanna Szymanska; Additional reporting by Jason Hovet in Prague and Luiza Ilie in Bucharest; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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Mary I. Bruner