There are lots of things to remember when buying property in Croatia. In fact they apply when buying real estate anywhere in the world. Our greatest piece of advice is to keep things simple, the more complicated it gets the more likely you are to run into problems. If you are prepared to take on a more complicated purchase make sure you have clearly established all the risks. Croatia is a fantastic country but not without it’s issues, the pace of the administration being one of them. What might seem like a small problem can in fact take a very long time to resolve.
Top of the due diligence list when buying Croatian real estate is to get independent legal advice. As real estate agents we are responsible to a point. Whilst we never intentionally sell our clients properties with problems, it is always advisable to get everything checked and a second opinion. This is why we insist our clients have independent legal advise. Any decent agent will be able to give you the numbers of a few local lawyers who have track record with foreign buyers purchasing Croatian property. Contact them and if possible meet with them. What you definitely do not want to do is use an in-house agency lawyer. There is a serious conflict of interest for the real estate agent. It might save you some money but could give you a major headache further down the road.
Obvious but often clients don’t take the time to bother, make sure you compare prices of properties similar to that which you want to buy. The Croatian property market is not an exact science, it is an immature market in many respects but it should be possible to get a rough idea if you take the time to look. Certain property types, for example apartments, where the volume of product and sales is greater are easier to establish a more accurate valuation & opinion. The same goes for land. For existing properties next to the sea, or larger estates and one of properties it’s more difficult because the variables are considerable and the lack of comparative data makes it tough to form an opinion. However, doing some form of price research is advisable and a good real estate agent should be in a position and willing to point you in the right direction.
Go to the area you are thinking about purchasing in, walk around the streets, feel the area. If you have already identified a property you like engage with a few of the neighbors, if they don’t speak your language never mind it is always good to say hello. The large majority of the time you will find neighbors to be friendly and more than willing to speak to you. Whilst you need to take a lot of what they say with a pinch of salt, (neighborly politics) it will give you a different perspective. If for any reason it raises questions ask your agent, a good agent will be able to alleviate any concerns through further investigation. Even better speak to other foreign buyers that have bought in the area. This is in fact a better gauge because they are more representative and won’t be so caught up in petty disputes between neighbors which is sometimes the case.
Finally, if you can speak to other buyers who have bought property in Croatia. Ask for references of previous buyers who speak the same language from the agents you are working with. Call them, email them ask them for their impressions, experiences, do’s and don’t. Whilst not all agent’s previous clients will want to speak to you, some will and many will be open to exchanging a few emails, but within reason!