The Croatian property market is still very much in its infancy. The rapidly emerging but unspoiled coast has grabbed the attention of foreign buyers who are on the lookout for a bargain. Reports of one-bedroom apartments being sold for $50,000 have wetted the appetite of those who have been priced out of more expensive European countries.

Due to the strong demand by foreign buyers, the tourist industry growth and new large infrastructure projects, the construction activity and property prices have risen all along the Adriatic coast and in the capital city, Zagreb. Prices in some towns have been on a rise by more than 20% on an annual basis.

In August 2004 lower interest rates were introduced on mortgages for Croatian citizens which speeded up the soar of property prices. But everyone agrees that the prices will rise even more when Croatia joins the EU. However, Croatian property prices are still favorable comparing to other European and especially Mediterranean countries.

Croatia is determined to protect what it has and committed to protecting their coastline, so sea front properties will be at a premium. Having said that there is no shortage of stunning sea front properties available. If you buy on the beach the public will have access to the land to at least 6m above the waterline. The Croatian real estate market is in its infancy. Land and house prices are still very favourable, particularly on the islands where there are beautiful stone houses built in the traditional style. Also in the beautiful historic towns such as Dubrovnik, Hvar, Zadar, Korcula there are excellent opportunities to acquire prime location real estate at reasonable prices.

Where to Buy

Many tourists and those in search of a holiday home will undoubtedly head for the coast in search of their dream property. Istria is the largest peninsula on the Croatian coast and because of its good transport links with Italy and Austria has also become the country's major tourist destination. Croatia's largest port is called Rijeka. Of the many islands scattered throughout the Kvarner Bay, Krk is the most developed as well as the largest with good beaches and tourist facilities. Split in central Dalmatia is Croatia's second largest city although nearby the tiny medieval city of Trogir is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Northern Dalmatia has an historic centre which is made up of narrow cobbled streets, some Roman remains and several interesting churches.

Although often ignored by travellers, inland Croatia holds plenty of attractions, most notably Zagreb as well as Zagorje, a rural area of hills and vineyards north of the capital. South of Zagreb is the UNESCO-listed Plitvice Lakes National Park, featuring 16 beautiful lakes, waterfalls and numerous hotels although tourism development has been restricted in line with strict environmental preservation policies.

A Word of Warning

Buyers beware, as there are only a few estate agents and regulation is limited so make sure you find one you can rely on. In terms of buying property, due to mass migration during the war years, the original ownership of many properties have dubious pasts so you must ensure that the title deeds have been thoroughly checked. As property is also passed from generation to generation, check that you are actually buying from the person whose name is on the title deeds. When buying a property, remember that fees for purchasing are in the region of 10%, which includes about 5% property transfer tax and legal fees and 2-3% fees to the agent.