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Understand the title deed when buying a property in Croatia

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Considering property investment in Croatia is appealing. The country boasts charming coastal cottages, historic homes, and modern city apartments for potential investors.

However, international buyers may find it challenging to navigate the Croatian real estate market, particularly when verifying the authenticity and legality of the "Zemljišnoknjižni izvadak," which serves as the official title deed in Croatia.

We have actually covered this specific document (among others, like the sales contract) in our property pack for Croatia.

In this article, we will give some insight to ensure a smooth and legally compliant property transaction in Croatia.

However, please do not forget that this blog post is for informational purposes only and that we are not legal experts. It's always advisable to consult with one. They can indeed thoroughly examine your specific situation and provide you with the most appropriate and tailored advice.

What is the Zemljišnoknjižni izvadak in Croatia?

The "Zemljišnoknjižni izvadak," also known as the "Vlasnički list," is a crucial document in Croatia when dealing with real estate transactions.

It's essentially the title deed, a legal document that provides proof of ownership of a property. This document is different from other property documents, such as sales contracts or building permits, because it's the official record that states who owns the property.

One of the key features of the Zemljišnoknjižni izvadak is that it includes detailed information about the property, including its location, size, and type, as well as the name of the owner or owners.

It's a reliable document because it's issued and maintained by the land registry, which is a government entity responsible for keeping an official record of real estate ownership in Croatia.

Owning a property as per this document gives you certain legal rights. Primarily, it confirms your legal ownership and right to use the property. It also plays a crucial role in legal transactions, such as selling or mortgaging the property, as it's the official proof that you have the right to do so.

However, it's important to note that this document does not confer rights like automatic permission for any kind of construction or modification on the property. For that, you would need other permits and approvals.

When it comes to resale and inheritance, the Zemljišnoknjižni izvadak is vital. For resale, it assures potential buyers that you are the legitimate owner and have the right to sell the property.

It also provides a clear history of ownership, which is important for establishing a chain of title. This is particularly crucial for foreign investors, who often seek clear and undisputed ownership before investing in property overseas.

In the context of inheritance, this document helps in legally transferring property ownership to heirs, as it clearly establishes who the current owner is.

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How to verify a title deed in Croatia?

The process

Verifying the authenticity of a "Zemljišnoknjižni izvadak" or "Vlasnički list," which is the property title deed in Croatia, is a critical step in ensuring a secure real estate transaction.

To verify its authenticity, the first and most reliable source is the Croatian Land Registry. This is a government body responsible for maintaining an official record of real estate ownership.

You, or a legal representative on your behalf, can request access to the land registry records. These records are digitized and available online, making it relatively straightforward to cross-reference the information on the title deed with the official records.

Notaries and lawyers play a vital role in the verification process. A notary in Croatia is a public official who can provide certified copies of documents and verify their authenticity. Engaging a lawyer, particularly one specializing in real estate law, is also advisable.

They have the expertise to scrutinize the title deed and cross-verify its details with the land registry. Lawyers can also help identify any legal encumbrances or issues with the property that might not be immediately apparent from the title deed alone.

Real estate agents can be helpful, but their role is more limited compared to notaries and lawyers. They can provide guidance and assistance in accessing the title deed and may offer practical advice. However, they are not qualified to give legal opinions on the authenticity of the document.

It's always best to involve a legal professional for verification.

Ensure that all property details on the title deed match those in the land registry. Any discrepancies in property size, location, or owner's details are a red flag.

A clear history of ownership without frequent or unexplained changes is a good sign. Be cautious if there's a history of rapid ownership changes, as this can be indicative of potential fraud.

The title deed should clearly state if there are any encumbrances or liens against the property. If there are any, they need to be resolved before you proceed with the transaction.

Check the date and any official stamps or seals on the document. A valid title deed should have up-to-date information and official markings.

What to check

Understanding the property title deed, known in Croatia as "Zemljišnoknjižni izvadak" or "Vlasnički list," is crucial in any real estate transaction. Accessing and interpreting the property's history records involves a few specific steps.

Firstly, to access and trace the property's history, you would typically go to the Croatian Land Registry, which maintains records of all registered properties. This registry will provide the history of ownerships and past transactions of the property.

It's important to understand this history because it gives insight into how the property has been transferred over time, revealing any potential legal issues or disputes.

To check for outstanding debts or liens against the property, you again refer to the Land Registry. Liens or debts secured against the property are usually recorded here.

Knowing about these is critical because, as a new owner, you might become responsible for these debts. If there are outstanding liens, they might need to be settled before the property can be transferred to you.

Verifying the accuracy of the property's measurements and boundaries as stated in the title deed is another important step. This can usually be done by comparing the information in the deed with the actual physical measurements of the property. If you're not confident in doing this yourself, hiring a surveyor is a wise decision.

They can provide an accurate measurement and verify if the property's physical boundaries match those described in the deed. If there are discrepancies, they may need to be resolved legally, often involving negotiations with neighboring property owners or adjustments to the deed.

Understanding zoning laws and land use restrictions is also essential. For this information, you should consult the local municipal or city planning office.

They can provide details on what the property can be used for, whether residential, commercial, or agricultural, and inform you of any specific restrictions or building codes applicable to the property.

After our research and the feedback collected from our local real estate partners, we have written an article about the risks and pitfalls when buying a property in Croatia, you might want to check it out.

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How to update the title deed after the property transaction in Croatia?

After purchasing a property in Croatia, updating the title deed, known as the "Zemljišnoknjižni izvadak" or "Vlasnički list," is a critical step. The process involves a few specific actions.

First, you need to have the sale agreement, which is usually drawn up by a notary. This agreement must be in writing and requires a certain form to be legally valid.

Once you have this agreement, you must submit it to the land registry office to initiate the process of transferring ownership. The land registry office will require proof of payment of the associated property transfer tax. After this tax is paid, the land registry will update the title deed to reflect the new ownership.

Regarding insurance and additional protections, there are several options advisable for property owners in Croatia. Property insurance is the most common and recommended, covering risks like fire, theft, and natural disasters.

Additionally, liability insurance can protect you in case someone is injured on your property. It's also wise to consider title insurance, which can protect against any legal issues with the title that might arise after purchase.

For foreign owners, understanding the implications of the title deed in the context of Croatian inheritance laws is important. In Croatia, certain family members, like spouses and children, have protected inheritance rights. This means that part of the property must be inherited by these family members, regardless of what is stated in a will.

As a foreign owner, if you want your property to be inherited according to the laws of your home country, you should make a will in that country and another one in Croatia.

Both wills should state that the will made in your home country does not apply to your assets in Croatia, and vice versa. This helps ensure that your wishes regarding the property are respected.

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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Readers are advised to consult with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions. We do not assume any liability for actions taken based on the information provided.