Property investors are often on the look out for the next potential hot spot to invest in before local prices soar. Countries which were once affordable are now expensive, both to vacation in and in the cost of upkeep of properties. As Albania tentatively begins to open its doors to tourism, the reality of cheap prices, combined with beautiful coastlines, are stirring interest amongst both developers and investors.
It is the coastal areas and the capital city Tirana which are attracting interest, both for long term growth and rental opportunities. Northern Albania does not enter the equation and is still not recommended for travel. Prices are inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe, yet already the prices attached to coastal developments aimed at foreign investors seem remarkably high in what is one of the poorest countries in Europe.
Investors could well be caught out spending far more than they need as many prices are undoubtedly inflated. Some developers hope that they will still be considered a bargain in comparison to other European countries but many are simply hoping to take advantage of the eagerness of foreign investors to buy relatively cheaply without thoroughly researching the reality of prices.
Albania is still an extremely poor country despite internal economic growth, and labour is a fraction of the price of other countries, thus cheap builders can be utilized in constructions which may not be of high standards. Anyone thinking of investing should be aware that Albania is in a seismic zone and does suffer from earth tremors, and ensure that foundations meet regulated standards for earthquake zones, even if the Albanian regulations do not match such standards.
Many of the off plan developments being thrown up are done in a hasty fashion and can end up as unattractive blocks, reminiscent of communist type buildings which lack any character. Such developments around Tirana are primarily aimed at foreigners who would purchase and then rent them out long term to the emerging middle class of Albanians, providing them with practical accommodations.
The South West coast of Albania, overlooking the Greek island of Corfu, is attracting development due to the coastline and beaches. It may well be worth considering that the Adriatic sea close to the coast line is actually highly polluted in that area due to inadequate sewage disposal. Property regulation itself is improving in the country but ownership rights need to be rigorously researched and all investments overseen by a lawyer. The bureaucracy remains inept and corruption rife, so it is imperative that a structural engineer is used in case the developers have cut corners in building standards.
Off plan developments are available in areas such as Suranda, Durres and Vlora, expected to become good area for tourism, and the capital Tirana. Investors are encouraged to buy in Tirana to profit from the fast developing residential market there, but it is wise to choose the area with great care as central Tirana can be violent at night but is generally considered safe during the day. Coastal developments are generally priced by the square meter, and some developments can be very cheap in European terms, with projected growth statistics available.
Foreign investors who decide to invest early in Albania should take the time to go there and thoroughly compare developments, prices and quality. They should liaise with lawyers, engineers and agents who are thoroughly attuned to the buying procedures for foreigners. Price comparisons can be done online before visiting but be aware that prices are always generally much higher when targeted at foreigners and every attempt to negotiate lower prices should be undertaken.
If caution is exercised it could well be possible to own a prime piece of real estate which will attract tourists and pay off as a mid to long term investment: just don’t be too hasty and commit to a development which could end up looking like a shabby third star motel.