Property agent Toni Ercegovic of Osmica reveals the essentials for finding, buying and furnishing your Croatian home...
1. Buying property
When it comes to buying a property in Croatia, the levels of bureaucracy can be stifling. Make sure you appoint a licensed agent to guide you through the paperwork.
Rates of commission are around two to three per cent, although can be less. Always check what is included in this fee to avoid any nasty surprises.
2. Purchase Costs
All payments in Croatia need to be done in the local currency (Kuna). You will need to pay a five per cent property tax on the purchase price declared in the contract, or on the estimated value if tax administration finds the price too low.
Be wary of any 'black money' transactions: paying some of the total in cash while declaring a lower price in the contract can lead to serious penalties.
3. Furnishing your Home
Finding cheap furnishings (e.g. for tourist accommodation) is relatively straightforward, but stylish furniture less so. Most upmarket items are ordered by request.
Usually imported from Italy, they take between one to three months: the worst time to order being July and August (the 'Ferragosto' period of national holidays). Electrical equipment and appliances can be ordered online.
4. Land and Construction
Buying agricultural land is currently not possible for non-Croatians. Should your dream home overlap on this terrain, buy the house in your name and register a Croatian company to buy the adjoining plot.
This process is both fast and easy, and within a few years you will be able to transfer the land onto your name. A new law (expected 2014) is anticipated to speed up the procedure of obtaining building permits, as well as bringing new modern investments to the country.
If planning to buy land to build on, consult an architect to help define any infrastructure or accessibility issues.
5. Renting out your Home
Renting out a property won't make you rich, but it will cover any maintenance costs and perhaps a little extra for holidays. Individual EU citizens can now get renting permission easily and cheaply. Tax payment is a fixed value so you won't need an accountant.
6. Telephone and Internet
You will need to talk by phone and the costs can be really expensive. Buying a prepaid Croatian SIM card will save you money as well as the hassle of arranging a contract phone. Avoid excessive roaming charges and take advantage of the free wireless internet throughout most bars and restaurants.
Getting Convivial with the Croats
Croatians are simple people who have a lot of different traditions depending on the region they're from. Almost everybody speaks at least one foreign language- mostly English, German and Italian. With a long tradition of tourism especially on the coast - both tourists and property buyers are always welcome.
Barbecues are an excellent way to make new friends - tell them you will buy beer and wine and don't be afraid to ask them for advice on anything from where to find the best butcher to pronouncing certain words. As in most cases, making a joke always helps break the ice: Croatians have a great sense of humour.
The more open you are to learning the local customs, the easier you will find it to integrate. The best food can be found intaverns or 'konobas', usually outside the city. The concept of splitting a bill in Croatia doesn't exist, so expect the person who invites you out to cover the full cover and vice versa.