News Article Buildecon construction EBI Eltinga Hungary iBuild report
by Property Forum | Report

The value of construction works launched in three months rose in Q1 2024, Activity-Start hasn’t been so high in the last six quarters. EBI Construction Activity Report Q1 2024 measured the total value of started construction works at HUF 807 billion. Looking at the period between 2018 and 2023, there were very only five quarters when Activity-Start surpassed this number. At constant prices, Q1 2024 was also considered good when looking at the period since June 2022. Nevertheless, when compared to the period between 2018 and H1 2022, it fell into the lower range.

EBI Construction Activity Report Hungary analyses the construction industry on a quarterly basis, including the volume of newly started construction works and the value of projects completed in each quarter in aggregate and by segment as well. It is prepared by Eltinga, Buildecon (creation of indicators and development of algorithms for aggregation) and iBuild (project research and project database).

Building construction failed to improve in Q1 2024

Building construction could not regain sense in early 2024: Activity-Start was at the level of the last quarter of 2023. The value of started construction works was slightly more than HUF 400 billion, almost the same as between October and December last year, but 17%-26% lower than in the first quarters of previous years. At constant prices there was a decline in the value of started building projects: last time Activity-Start was lower was in Q4 2015.

The Activity-Start indicator of non-residential buildings slightly grew in the first three months of 2024 compared to Q4 2023, thus exceeding HUF 350 billion. Yet, examining individual quarters between 2021 and 2023, Q1 2024 was the second lowest. At constant price, the last time Activity-Start was lower than in Q1 2024 was in 2015. In the case of housing construction, 2024 started better than 2023, but the value of started construction works continued to drop after Q4 2023.

Biggest building projects launched in the first three months this year mainly included logistics and industrial buildings, like the construction of Mercedes-Benz battery integrating plant (Kecskemét), Weerts Ebes logistics hall (Ebes), Benepack packaging materials factory (Makó), Phase I of Evoring electric car parts factory (Jászfényszaru), building C of VGP Park logistics centre (Győr), and the storage hall and HQ of Rossmann (Üllő). Large office projects such as Zugló-Városközpont Office7 and several multi-unit residential projects also started, as well as the construction of the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel (mixed-use) and the development of Hungaroring Paddock.

Civil engineering getting back to life

After several weak quarters, civil engineering seems to have improved and Activity-Start in Q1 2024 was nearly HUF 400 billion, an increase of roughly 70% against Q1 2023. The improvement was visible in non-road and non-railway constructions and in road and railway ones alike. The former saw a 180% growth over the first quarter of last year, but Activity-Start was more than 50% higher than in the last quarter (which was also stronger). The value of non-road and non-railway projects at the current price was last higher in Q1 2017 than in Q1 2024, but even at a constant price, it has been the fourth highest Activity-Start since 2020.

In road and railway constructions, the recovery was mainly due to the Ferencváros-Kelenföld railway line 1 project, considered to be the highest-value work started in Q1 2024 in the entire construction sector. The Southern Industrial Park in Nyíregyháza and the flood protection facility in Esztergom were also among the biggest civil engineering projects.

Budapest took the lead again

Looking at the construction works started in the last four quarters, the highest value ones were in Budapest whose share in total Activity-Start was 36% (20-30% in the last quarters). Northern Great Plain, the leader in previous periods, slipped back to second place (21% of works started here). Southern Transdanubia had the lowest Activity-Start (its share barely exceeded 5%), Western Transdanubia had a share of 5%, while Northern Hungary had 6%.

Multi-unit residential building still stumbling

Although this year started better than the last one in multi-unit residential construction, the value of such started projects dropped further and was lower than in the last two quarters of 2023. Starting from Q2 2016, the segment registered the fourth lowest Activity-Start in Q1 2024 at the current price. Looking at a constant price, the value of works started in early 2024 has been the third lowest since 2016.

Yet the market outlook improved compared to the previous year. Mortgage rates sank greatly by the end of 2023 and continued to do so in 2024, while the economic outlook also became better. The rosier environment has lured buyers back to the residential market with the revival already noticeable in the first quarter of this year, both in the secondary and primary markets. Good news: the reduced VAT rate for new homes has been extended, so instead of the end of 2024, building permits can be obtained by the end of 2026 and homes can be sold at 5% VAT until 2030.

Many multi-unit residential projects were completed in the first three months of this year with their value exceeding HUF 120 billion, the highest quarterly Activity-Completion since 2021. Many units are expected to be completed this year, too, however, in the long run, the value of completions is set to decrease due to previously shrinking construction works.

Looking at the past four quarters, Budapest accounted for 63% of multi-unit residential projects entering the construction phase, and slightly more than 64% of the value of such projects was concentrated in Central Hungary. Eastern Hungary accounted for 14.8% of the Activity-Start, while Western Transdanubia's share was 20.9%.

Northern Hungary in focus

Although the year started well in the construction industry nationally, it is not true to Northern Hungary where the total value of started construction works did not reach HUF 22 billion. It was the lowest quarterly amount in 2018-2023.

In Northern Hungary, both building construction and civil engineering shrank in the first quarter of this year. Building Construction Activity-Start was one of the lowest in the quarters of recent years with the drop clearly attributed to non-residential buildings. Although the value of the started multi-unit residential constructions grew at the beginning of 2024, the region still has a very low willingness to build such buildings (its share in the national multi-unit residential Activity-Start was less than 3% in the last 4 quarters). Low activity in multi-unit residential works is well illustrated by the fact that, despite the improvement, no project made it into the largest construction projects in the region in Q1 2024.

Among non-residential buildings, the biggest regional projects launched between January and March 2024 include Phase II of Horváth Rudolf Logistics Centre in Hatvan. In recent years the largest ones comprised the logistics hall of Robert Bosch Power Tool MC301 in Miskolc (starting in 2023), the manufacturing plant of GKN Automotive in Felsőzsolca (starting in 2022), Chevron manufacturing plant and the reconstruction of Diósgyőr Castle in Miskolc (starting in 2021).

In early 2024 Civil Engineering Activity-Start in Northern Hungary continued to drop. Looking at the period of 2018-2023, the total value of construction works started in Q1 2024 was the third lowest: Activity-Start did not reach HUF 4 billion. In Q1 civil engineering projects were not even among the largest started ones. The value of civil engineering projects started in the region was higher in Q2 2023, in Q2 2022 and in Q3 2021 when such projects entered the construction phase as the Szentdomonkos-Borsodnádasd section of main road 25, the Sajószentpéter-Berente bypass 260, and the Gesztely-Szerencs section of main road 37. The peak so far in regional civil engineering Activity-Start was Q2 2019 when the construction of sections A, B and C of the M30 expressway began.