Croatia property buying guide

The following is a simple step-by-step Croatia property buying guide, explaining the various stages of the Croatia property purchase and sales process and our involvement in it. One simple rule of thumb and probably the best advice we can give is that clients looking to buy property in Croatia use the same caution and common sense they would apply if they were buying a property back home.

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If you are in Croatia, we will arrange to meet you and either view specific properties you are interested in or meet at the office, work out a viewing plan together and do a viewing.

If you are starting your search from home, we will ask you to give us the following information on the type of real estate in Croatia you want to buy.

  • What type of property you are interested in purchasing,
  • What your approximate budget for buying a property is,
  • In which locations you are interested
  • How close to the sea your property needs to be
  • Are you prepared to build or renovate property?
  • When can you come to Croatia to view real estate with us.

Your agent will do a ‘property list’ of relevant properties according to the information that you have given. These will include properties on, properties on the market but not yet listed, properties we have from our Croatian real estate partners and those properties that we have been instructed not to advertise.

We then analyze, discuss and adjust the property list accordingly. We suggest other options if necessary and clients sometimes send us links of properties they have found on the internet that they like the look of. Our property finders then find the properties and contact owners (in Croatia, property owners are allowed to work with multiple agencies and many often do).

Having agreed a selection of properties to view, we will arrange and prepare for your viewing trip. At this point we will email you our real estate agency agreement and our viewing form. Before starting the viewing trip, we will ask you to sign our real estate agency agreement and at the end of the viewing the viewing trip form. The viewing trip form confirms those properties that you have viewed with us and to which the agency agreement is applicable.

After the viewing trip we always ask for feedback, maybe you have found the right property, maybe not, either way we want to know what worked, what didn’t and why. We can then work out what to do next. If you have found the property you want to buy, then we start the real estate purchase process.If you didn’t find the right property, then based on your feedback from the viewing we prepare additional properties and another viewing trip at some point in the near future or when you can come back to Croatia again.

If you found the property you want to buy, we will recommend a lawyer who has experience with working with foreign clients that have already purchased property in Croatia. The lawyer’s job is to oversee the process, the critical part being making sure the property has clean title, is legal and assisting in structuring the deal and writing the contract. If there are any discrepancies regarding the ownership or legality of the property, the lawyer will advise on the various options, associated process and the risks involved. Always hire an independent lawyer, never use a Croatia real estate agency’s in-house lawyer because of conflict of interest.

We then start the process of negotiation and assuming we reach an acceptable price and key terms are agreed, your lawyer in conjunction with the vendor’s lawyer (if he has one) will draw up the Croatia real estate agreement. Depending on the structure of the deal, there might be a pre-contract and a main contract or just a main contract. At this point most clients will open a foreign currency bank account which must be done in person (with internet banking) in order to execute the property purchase payment.

The contract is then signed and exchanged in the presence of a Croatian notary public. In Croatia only the seller’s signature needs to be authorized by the notary public and therefore if the buyer is not present, the contract can be signed in their country of residence and sent to Croatia. If the property seller is abroad, it is necessary for them to notarize the contract with an Apostille Seal or a power of attorney given to their designated representative or lawyer.

A payment is then made, how much and to whom depends on the deal structure. If a pre-contract has been signed, then usually a 10% deposit is given to the seller or placed in escrow. If the main contract has been signed, the full payment usually follows. It is also possible that a number of stage payments are involved, this is especially true of properties that are purchased off-plan in Croatia. In the case of a property which is awaiting legalization, any payment must be placed on an escrow. This is also the case if the property title is in the process of being cleaned.

Once the main contract has been signed, it is submitted to the local land registry department for you to be pre-registered as the new owner on the title deeds. Once the payment has been received in full, the seller must issue a notarized statement stating they have received the money and allows the buyer to finalise the process of real estate title transfer into the buyer’s name.

Your lawyer will also register the Croatia real estate purchase contract with the local tax authority. Subject to whether transfer tax is applicable, the tax office will send you or your designated representative the tax bill. Where necessary, the application for permission to purchase is prepared by your lawyer and sent to the Croatian Ministry of Justice. In this case after gaining approval and within 30 days, your lawyer must register the purchase agreement with the tax authorities.