Hunting for a house in Croatia: A modern mountain villa for $ 1.2 million


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These three bedrooms holiday house lies in the heart of the Croatian mountainous region of Gorski Kotar, the northwestern pocket of the country – known as the “green lungs” of Croatia – which stretches as far as the Adriatic Sea.

The three-storey house, which was completed in 2019, stands on a quarter-acre sloping plot of land and has a traditional wooden structure, often located in Gorski Kotar, known for its woodworking. The primary materials are Siberian larch and iron from local sources, in accordance with the owner’s wish that the house with an area of ​​2368 square meters be built by local workers from sustainable materials. Even the furniture and shelves were made by local craftsmen from solid wood. The outer shell is to protect the house from the harsh Croatian winters.

“My guiding idea was longevity and resistance to extreme weather conditions, because that is Gorski Kotar after all,” said the owner, who for privacy reasons asked not to be named. “But I wanted it to be as natural as possible, with as few chemicals as possible, to fit into the untouched nature of the area.”

The house is designed with a minimalist Scandinavian aesthetic and has moss-covered tiles and reflective floor-to-ceiling glass windows that open the main living areas with mountain views. “It’s really a Croatian product,” said Mirjana Micetic, a broker at Croatia Sotheby’s International Realty, which has the list.

When entering through a garage for two cars on the lower level, the basement has an entertainment lounge, sauna, bathroom and wine cellar designed in the style of a Croatian tavern, said Ms. Micetic.

The path leads from the driveway around the landscaped garden to the main entrance. On the ground floor, an iron fireplace separates the kitchen from the living room, which has wall-to-wall windows and doors that open to the deck, a heated pool and a spa. The kitchen, which is also accessible through a glass door on the side of the house, has a table with 10 seats.

The second floor, which protrudes slightly overboard, has three en suite bedrooms, the largest of which overlooks a forest window. The garden has a fireplace, barbecue, open dining room and garden.

The building is located in the village of Ravna Gora, which lies between the larger towns of Delnice and Vrbovsko. Risnjak National Park is about 30 minutes away; Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination, is an hour and a half away. Rijeka, seaport About 45 minutes to the west, is a melting pot of European influences with a growing tourist scene and an international airport. Zagreb, the Croatian capital, is about an hour northeast.

Croatia was one of the few European countries that responded quickly to coronaviruses and ordered a complete quarantine in mid-March, which successfully suppressed the spread of the virus. The deadline was lifted in May, and a flood of tourists and buyers spilled over into the country in June, triggering a second wave of infections that continued into the fall. As of October 13, Croatia had reported 20,993 Covid-19 cases and 330 deaths Map of coronavirus in the New York Times.

Despite all this, the country’s real estate industry – which has enjoyed several years of steady growth – has managed to stay upright. “The market never really died,” said Ms. Micetic. “I feel like it’s been postponed by two to three months.” She said she held virtual screenings with potential buyers throughout the lock-in period, while those planning to arrive in the spring were postponed to July, August and September.

Elena Nevskaya, chief consultant of Adrionika Consultancy and Coordination, said that tourism most often generates real estate demands along the Croatian Adriatic coast. In May and June, compared to the same period in 2019, there were twice as many applications from foreigners, according to a message from Adrionika. Many of them were for detached villas with pools on the Istrian peninsula for approximately EUR 300,000 to 350,000 (USD 355,000 to 415,000) and waterfront villas in Dalmatia for approximately EUR 1.5 to 2 million (1.8 to 2.4 million). (Croatia operates on kunas, although many transactions take place in euros.)

Ms Nevskaya said the onset of the pandemic, coupled with the effects of the earthquake that struck Zagreb on March 22, had caused prices to fall nationwide, helped by low interest rates on housing loans, now around 2.5 percent.

But the latest quarterly report from Croatian Statistical Office found that house prices rose 8 percent compared to the second quarter of 2019, including a 9 percent increase in Zagreb. The quake, which damaged many homes in the city center, reduced inventory and shifted attention to some potential buyers.

“We have seen a sharp increase in the number of people looking for houses and building plots compared to apartments,” said Boro Vujovic, director of the Zagreb agency Opereta and vice president of the trade association for real estate agents in the Croatian Chamber of Commerce. . “Both coronaviruses and earthquakes made people feel better at ground level with a piece of their own land.”

In the luxury market, Ms Micetic said that Sotheby’s had seen a slight decline in foreign interest over the past seven months because people could not visit their homes in the spring. But there is a specialized clientele that will never dry out. From January to September this year, the company listed 69 properties and 11 sold, which is an increase compared to 61 properties and eight sales in the same period in 2019.

The rural region of Gorski Kotar, as well as other less densely populated areas in Croatia, does not attract huge interest from foreigners, but interest is slowly growing, brokers said.

Mr Vujovic said the pandemic had strengthened the activity of holiday homes and farmland in the region, where clients were looking for clean air and water, as well as proximity to Zagreb and the coast. “After the pandemic,” he said, “the value of isolation, nature and peace has increased significantly.”

According to Sotheby’s report, foreign buyers account for about 15 percent of real estate transactions in current years, with Slovenians in the first place due to the shared border with Croatia.

Ms Micetic said this year that she had noticed requests from Austrian, Slovenian and German buyers. So did Peter Ellis, director of Croatian real estate services, who noted the increased attention of Germans on the Istrian peninsula, where buyers may be looking for second homes by the sea.

Today, new buyers tend to come within driving distance of Croatia, Mr Ellis said, especially in Western Europe, and often ask about second homes or investment properties.

Croatia, which joined the European Union in 2013, gives European citizens easier access to their real estate through a reciprocity law, which allows Europeans to buy real estate without restriction, as long as Croatians have the same rights in the buyer’s home country.

Over half of the states in the US, they also have reciprocity with Croatia, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and California.

Non-European citizens must obtain the consent of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Croatia to purchase real estate. From there, the buyer will want to find a Croatian lawyer – usually an in-house brokerage – to sign the contract. Once the offer is accepted, the buyer pays approximately 7 percent of the house’s total cost of taxes and fees, which include what the brokers and attorneys owe, as well as real estate transfer tax.

Croatian; there (1 there = $ 0.16)

If the house is used as a primary residence, there is no annual property tax in Croatia, said Ms Miceticová.

Mirjana Micetic, Croatia Sotheby’s International Realty, 011-385-21-586-957; sothebysrealty.hr

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