By Royal Demand: Transform your view of Romania and follow Prince Charles to TransylvaniaBy Graham Norwood
Last updated at 4:03 PM on 5th July 2010
Restoration work will soon finish on his latest acquisition, a 150-year-old estate in Zalanpatak village that has 37 acres and a five-bedroom house. The Prince will let it out as a guesthouse when he's not there, as he does with another Transylvanian property he owns.
Heritage: The Prince owns two properties in Transylvania, home to his ancestorsSo just what is the appeal of this central Romanian region, best known for Dracula's castle, fairytale Saxon villages, deep forests and the haunting Carpathian mountains?
'It's extremely beautiful and considered by many to be the standout region of Romania,' says Edward Russell, who runs sales website homesinromania.co.uk.
'Transylvania has forests, lakes, cities, good access and of course everyone has heard of it. The speculators who thought they could make a quick buck a few years ago have gone and the interest from Britons is now modest but steady,' he says.
He believes Transylvania has two tempting spots for adventurous British buyers. One is Cluj-Napoca in the region's centre. With Romania's largest university, it has a high proportion of foreign students who form a large community of renters.
The airport has opened a new terminal and Nokia has one of its largest telecommunications centres here. Brasov, in southern Transylvania, is another major academic centre and transport hub.
'Property here consists of new apartments in the somewhat sprawling industrialised areas and contemporary and older- style family homes,' says Cox.
Royal appointment: The Prince is a fanTransylvania is one of the most affluent parts of Romania, yet property values remain low compared to other eastern European locations. The country entered the EU in 2007, just as many western countries were hitting recession. Consequently there was no surge in overseas buyers to push up house prices.
New four-bedroom villas in rural areas sell for well under £90,000, while modern two-bedroom apartments in Brasov are on sale for £75,000 or less. Old farmhouses, often in need of a complete rebuild, can be snapped up for £20,000 to £40,000, while even large western-standard period houses can come in at under £100,000.
The prospect of buying appears straightforward on paper. Buildings can be purchased without restriction, but non-resident EU citizens wanting land will first have to set up a Romanian company.
However, there are many stories of foreigners being ripped off.
The cities are relatively modern but in rural areas there are no estate agents and few professionals to help you make a sound purchase or bring derelict houses back to life.
'It's a complete nightmare. The chance of finding someone who can give independent, well-informed advice is next to zero, unless you know an expert,' says Russell.
The International Property Law Centre, which advises on buying abroad, urges extreme caution and any contract should be looked at by an independent legal adviser.
It will not be easy to follow Prince Charles' example, but if you do lust after a property in Dracula's homeland, the rewards could be richly satisfying.