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Buyer Beware Croatia!

Hi Everyone,

As an ex-pat Aussie living in Croatia (my parents are Croatian & still living in Australia) I would like to offer any advice or pointers when it comes to buying property (houses, land, apartments) in Croatia.

There are many pitfalls and many pieces of false information being given to forigners wishing to get in on cheap deals or just buy that little piece of Heaven away from the Rat Race. (like Ana and I are trying to do.

Ana (my wife) and I have recently opened up shop in this area. Based in Zagreb, we are hoping to help ex-pats and others navigate the minefields of bureaucracy, corruption, fraud & false-advertising associated with purchasing property in Croatia.

Please be very weary of any and every offer and ensure that you do your homework when looking to make a purchase. If your solicitor (or other advisor) hasn't already done so, ensure that you yourself check out the Land Titles Office (http://www.katastar.hr) as well as the Registration Office (Opcina) in the town where the property is registered.
Both these registrars need to be cross-referenced to identify the true owner or owners of the land and hence who (or how many people) has the right to sell the property.

I just recently watched a UK Program where an English Gentleman was sold a property near Dubrovnik only to find that the property had been bequeathed to the Son before that Father had sold it to the English Gentleman. This situation could have been easily identified if the English Gentleman had probed deeper either through his solicitor or by himself at the Katastar Office and the Opcina in Dubrovnik.

Thanks to the efforts of the TV Show, the Gentleman was able to recoup some money, but not all stories like this have a happy ending.

If you are looking for help or advice, please feel free to drop us a hello.

Take care guys.

Val

Hello Val,

Googling I came across your forum post here. We are a small Dutch company with a dream of moving to a place in the South of Croatia to continue our business. As I understand you are helping/consulting people with plans in this direction? What kind of company do you have and do you have a website or so?

Thanks,

jeroen

Hello Val,

Writing in response to your post, I found it while looking for land title information in Croatia.  We are trying to obtain land title information on our father's property in Croatia.  We need to obtain an title extract on the property located in Gospic. We believe the title may have been transfered illegally.  If you can direct us to someone that could act as an agent on our behalf to obtain the search information we require.

I would appreciate if you could contact me at my personal email address rukavinacindy[at]yahoo.com, I would appreciate any help or advice you could offer.

Regards,

Cindy

Val,

My grandfather had bequeathed four parcels of property to my mother on the beautiful island of Krk "Petronjin" before his passing. Now my mother is not entirely sure where there parcels are exactly situated.  Is it possible to contact the land registry office and conduct a name search of my grandfather to identify all the property he owned?  I would appreciate if you could give me some direction as to how I would go about finding out who and where I would have to go to get this information.  In reads to your blog I am very fearful of being taken advantage of and given that corruption is an ongoing concern in this area as in other areas of Europe I have to be careful and diligent. 

My intentions are to visit this beautiful country in the summer but would like to have all of my ducks in a row so to speak before I depart.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Regards,


Ismet (Izy) Brahimir

A good place to start it is the electronic land registry records. I used Google translate to make some sense of the screens.
I couldn't find a search facility unfortunately, you will need to hunt down the new reference numbers for the plots or know the law case number that dealt with the transfer.

e-izvadak.pravosudje.hr/mpweb/jsp/menu/menusud.jsp

I have had a very poor experience of Croatian lawyers, Notaries and Land registry staff so far.

Looking to purchase a Independant Villa or House anywhere in the Croatian Coastline thus need your advise.

Dear Val,
         Good day to you. I saw your posting on the Expat.com and would like to know further details on properties available for sale in Croatia. Im not looking for anything too expensive so please let me know if you have something reasonable. Also what are the requirements if i purchase as a non croatian (foreigner) and what is the difference in rules if
a Croatian National purchases please let me know on both. Awaiting your kind reply.
Thanking You,
Sincerely,
Eric.

Val:

Greetings from Rhode Island. I'm an American engaged to an Aussie... and she owns a piece of real estate in Zagreb, which we need to sell.

The building is a single-family home in dire shape. Could you suggest a decent Real Estate agent? The space is on the Western side of the city.

Michael

valjelinic :

Hi Everyone,

As an ex-pat Aussie living in Croatia (my parents are Croatian & still living in Australia) I would like to offer any advice or pointers when it comes to buying property (houses, land, apartments) in Croatia.

There are many pitfalls and many pieces of false information being given to forigners wishing to get in on cheap deals or just buy that little piece of Heaven away from the Rat Race. (like Ana and I are trying to do.

Ana (my wife) and I have recently opened up shop in this area. Based in Zagreb, we are hoping to help ex-pats and others navigate the minefields of bureaucracy, corruption, fraud & false-advertising associated with purchasing property in Croatia.

Please be very weary of any and every offer and ensure that you do your homework when looking to make a purchase. If your solicitor (or other advisor) hasn't already done so, ensure that you yourself check out the Land Titles Office (http://www.katastar.hr) as well as the Registration Office (Opcina) in the town where the property is registered.
Both these registrars need to be cross-referenced to identify the true owner or owners of the land and hence who (or how many people) has the right to sell the property.

I just recently watched a UK Program where an English Gentleman was sold a property near Dubrovnik only to find that the property had been bequeathed to the Son before that Father had sold it to the English Gentleman. This situation could have been easily identified if the English Gentleman had probed deeper either through his solicitor or by himself at the Katastar Office and the Opcina in Dubrovnik.

Thanks to the efforts of the TV Show, the Gentleman was able to recoup some money, but not all stories like this have a happy ending.

If you are looking for help or advice, please feel free to drop us a hello.

Take care guys.

Val

Hi valjelinic,

Thanks for your info, this is most helpful.

My husband and I are relocating to Croatia and are planing on building a house on some old family land - the land titles are being sorted now. However would you care to share any contacts you have for building. Such as architects and a place to find accredited builders in Zadar?

Many thanks.

Hello sjbegonja.

Welcome to Expat.com!

This post is dated 2010.

I invite you to start a new thread on the Zagreb forum and to post your questions as well. :)

Thank you,
Aurélie

Thanks so much for both the welcome, and the suggestion.

I have just done that now.

CHEERS!

Hi Val,

I saw this post and thought you might point me in the right direction.

My father is from Croatia and he has land in Dalmatia. I am looking for information on the legal procedure in Croatia to resolve property boundary disputes. We live in the United States.

Several years ago, Croatia instituted what I think is an unusual policy by which property owners could put markers (usually large white-colored rocks or stones) on what they claim are their property lines. Aerial photographs were then taken to document these new property lines.

Because of emigration from Croatia over the decades, many people who have ownership rights to property in Croatia but live outside the country either could not place their own property markers down in time or were not aware of the procedure.

As a result, property owners living in Croatia could move the property lines, either intentionally or unintentionally, such that they gained additional square area, essentially making their properties larger in size and decreasing the size of neighboring properties.

Officials in Croatia then changed the land records based on the aerial photographs. It seems that no regard was given for any previous older valid documentation about the land, even if that documentation states the land is a different size than the size calculated using the new boundaries based on the aerial photographs.

According to local land officials, the only recourse a landowner has if he thinks the new boundaries are not correct, is to call in the other landowner who changed the boundaries to appear before a local judge who handles property disputes.

It seems the landowner who changed the boundaries cannot be compelled to appear before the judge, and they often do not, so the first landowner has to sue the second landowner to get any satisfaction, which, of course, costs money and may take a very long time to resolve.

My question is this: Is this really the law and the procedure to resolve a property boundary dispute?

Can officials cancel a boundary line change if there is no supporting documentation that corroborates the change and if valid older documents indicate the size of a property is different than what the size is after the boundaries have been changed based on the aerial photos?

Is there a legal statute on the books in Croatia that governs property boundary disputes, and where can I get a copy of the statutes?

Thank you for your help.

Frank

Hi found your article interesting.  I bought a house on Hvar and on the Local maps my house has a small patio in front of the house. The house has a number eg. 235 and the patio has 235A. The house next door has the same thing and they have access to the patio. The wall around the patio has been smashed down from the back which leads on to a large field. I've asked around and been told who the land belongs too! and who is claiming that the patio is also his.  I went on the site you recommended but it will not translate into english any ideas how I can check this myself or who I can turn to. I've tried a solicitor on Hvar and one in Split (who turns out to be from Hvar) and they say it is not my patio. I would like to check this out but dont know where to go.

I can look for you, either PM me or mail me at info[at]pf501.com 

I'll need your land registry number/s, they call it "cestica"

Hi, a newbie to this blog.
I came across your post having spent hours trawling through all the official sites to find some help. To cut a long long and difficult story short, we moved lock stock and barrel to Croatia to an island near Dubrovnik in 2009. We paid for a property on an island (in full) and believed it to be ours once money had been exchanged. As you warned we assumed that the system was like in the UK when you exchange you take ownership of your property and have your names on the title deeds. Unfortunately, the land ownership system is nothing as in the UK and I would also strongly advise any readers to make absolutely sure that your property has a clear/clean title. Although, I say that, we still suffered a significant problem even with clean titles. For five years we have been trying to clear the name of a lady who placed her name on the deeds to our property AFTER we had bought it through the land registry, whereas our names were registered with the courts and the two seem to be autonomous of each other.  Unfortunately, this lady died and it passed onto her next of kin, so our application remains in the courts and has had three appeals rejected compounded by the fact that we are 'stranica' (strangers ie., not citizens). We are caught up in a Kafka nightmare! and have been in limbo for five years since we were not allowed to work. If you are able to advice me on our land and citizen problems I would be so grateful as it is too long to explain in this post. Please get in touch.

[moderated: no free ads on the forum. please register your agency in the Business Directory]

Val is correct. It isn't enough to check the land books for ownership details, you have to answer the question..."How did this person/people become the owners?"  Even then, there are ways you can be scammed. Our advice, as Val has said, do not navigate your way through a purchase without expert and trusted help. [moderated]   I'm English and have been doing this for seven years but I wouldn't dream of making a purchase without my long-trusted legal advisor.

Can anyone help me?
I need a advice or suggestion. I found this web page apartments for sale croatia (emporia-realestate.com/type/apartments)  and i wonder if anyone have been buying per it?
Sorry for my bad english.

I am an american citizen living in UK and have had a terrible experience with a real estate deal in croatia. i ended up being duped in an amount in excess of Euro100,000 and the lawyer that i hired (referred by the US embassy, Zagreb) ran away with my 3,000 USD given to him as fees.. there is no formal way of prosecuting a croatian citizen while living in US/UK or another country especially not being a EU citizen and the hugh barrier of language that prevails at every step ( you will have to translate everything). the lawyers will charge hefty fees almost like a lawyer in states, but wont do anything, in my opinion croatians ( not a generalisation of course) are not really people who honor written contracts not to mention anything verbally agreed. I think it's a beautiful country with beautiful coast line, but underneath the beauty lied deceit and cheating. unless you know someone really well locally and you are willing to go there search for property yourself, there are a high chances you will be duped.

Hi,
I am croatian and just want to say to you that you are right about lawyers in this country....I have a cousin living in germany who needed an OIB number, becose she have some land that she inherited from her mother. If you have any friend in croatia he can get you that number from government for FREE, he will just need some papers that you can mail him. The lawyer from germany wanted 150 euros for that peace of paper, and guy in office that provides OIB told me, that some lawyers takes more than 400 euros from foreigners. It's so sad....

The other thing about buying a property here, especially on  the coast...property relations on that part of croatia are mostly unresolved. There are lot of inheritors on just one little peace of lend (in my case, I inherit in about 200 little peaces of lend, and every one of that peace have 5 to 100 people who are also legal inheritors).i can sell my peace, but I have to find a very good lawyer who will charge me a fortune to fail the lawsuits to all inheritors so we can make a deal....and the procedure can go for 20 years. And in croatia, lot of people never sign the paper but are owners of lend, so maybe your only way to find out who own a part of part of a peace of land is  orally....you have to find someone, old, local, who knew who owned the lend in the past, then find the relatives of that owner, and tell them what you need.....so, you need a honest lawyer, from the part of dalmatia that you want to buy land, who know people around, who will not charge you a fortune....you have to talk with locals and ask them for help.
People will help you, just ask more of them....croats like to help if they can...and maybe you will find a person who is good enough to do what he can...and not to take a big money from you. Just make a good relation with local people, find a friend there....make a friendship...don't trust just lawyers you don't know.
In this position, I don't even think about selling anything, just because It's so hard to find every person from the non existing list......I need a good local lawyer who will take me a fortune to do that.....
But in a few years, when the people of croatia start to pay property tax, lot of them will sell everything they have for little money, and everything will go much faster....because we own a lot, and don't have the money for taxes.

Good luck and don't forget to make a friends with locals....we are good people, in general. :)

One of my Croatian relatives who lives in the USA is having lots of difficulties officially registering several properties in a village in Dalmatia for which he and his sibling supposedly have inheritance rights. Working on his own without using of a lawyer, he has had limited success. However, he has been at it for years and years now, with a lot more left to do. 

Here is a list of just some of the troubles he has encountered with the bureaucracy in Dalmatia and with neighboring land owners who reside in the village full-time:

* A land records judge/bureaucrat recently wrote an incorrect description on an official document of how one property my relative owns was acquired. Apparently land records officials in Dalmatia cannot just correct their own mistakes. To make a correction, you have to file a case (or lawsuit) against the appropriate agency.

* Local neighbors who live in the village full-time somehow got themselves officially registered as owners of properties for which they have no proof of ownership.

* Local land owners somehow officially registered changes to their property lines making their properties larger than what is listed in older official documents. In other words, these locals extended their property boundary markers into an adjacent property my relative owns, thereby adding area (square meters) to their property. In my relative's case, a judge called in all the parties involved to negotiate a fair property boundary line, but since the "guilty" party did not appear before the judge, there is no recourse but to file a case against the "guilty" party. Lawsuits and legal cases in Croatia drag on for years and even decades. There is such a great backlog of cases.

I could write more, but by the horror stories my relative tells me just makes me sad.

I understand that its important to make a good friend(s) in Croatia to help in such circumstances, but a good honest friend won't do much good when a great animosity seems to exist among locals in Dalmatia for people in the Croatian Diaspora who come back to Dalmatia to try and settle property inheritance issues.

My friend got the same problem. He bought a property where is now his villa. But later, then local people told him that property was unsolved. I mean, one man tell him that. He was in fear because price was very big (i don't want to talk about numbers) and he didn't want to waste his money. Normally, he phoned his lawyer and tell them a story. Fortunately, his lawyer immediately ''smelled'' fraud and the case was closed. The point is (i'm from Croatia and i can say that) to be very careful, especially if you are doing business with local folks. Unfortunately, on the attractive locations people are worser and greedier than on the less attractive locations. They are so hard to negotiate, especially when they are connected to local authorities. Everyone wants his part in the deal. I know that's not correct, but what man can do? This how people do business here.

Interesting thread but nobody ever posts back on how their property buying nightmare turned out.

Anyone who posted originally care to post back?

Hi Val. Thank you for your advice on buying a property in Croatia. I want to buy a piece of land on the coast and build a little hotel. Can I do it as a Canadian citizen? What problems may I encounter? What part of the coast is more attractive to tourists and still has affordable real estate prices?

I am about to settle a purchase of apartment in Split and I have been living in Split for two and half  years as temporary resident. This status does not allow me to have title to the property. After five years of stay in Croatia II can apply for permanent residency and if successful the property can then be transferred into my name and registered Land Book. Is there another option like registering a Trust of which I am beneficiary and Executor and then the Trust can buy the apartment and have the apartment registered in a Land Book in name of Trust.? Contract are ready to be signed but would appreciate your response. Take care Andre

Hi.

Please could you let me know your website name to future reference?

Thank you for this

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