How can Albania become a developed country

Europeans buy property in Albania

Albania has long been considered the white spot of Europe. Foreigners who went on vacation there were often said to have a certain pinch of adventure and madness. Today, many Western and Eastern Europeans are opting for an even bigger "adventure": They buy real estate on the Albanian Adriatic and the Ionian Sea. Svein Augland is one of these new residents and bought an apartment in Saranda last year.

"I just knew that Albania was a communist country and had heard of terrifying Mafia stories. My wife brought the country to my attention, and that's how the journey began," recalls the Norwegian. "My first impression of the country: a wonderful climate, few tourists, nice people and very healthy food. Above all, it is important that Albania is easier to reach from Norway, because we used to have a house in Brazil." Albania reminds him of Greece or Italy and, compared to these popular travel destinations in the south, is still to a certain extent "untouched".

More British buyers after the Brexit referendum

In addition to Norwegians like Svein Augland, Swedes, Danes, French and Poles also buy holiday homes in Albania. Last year, Ukrainians also began to discover the Balkans. Exact figures are not yet available, but it is assumed that there will be up to 400 foreign buyers, says the head of the real estate agency "Albanian Property Group", Ilir Konomi. "Buyers from Western Europe are fundamentally different from those from the East. While Norwegians like to buy a spacious apartment, Ukrainians pay a lot of attention to a low price," adds Konomi. "At the moment we are seeing great interest from British customers. I can confirm that after the Brexit referendum, the number of inquiries sent to us has risen by 15 percent these days."

The beach in Saranda

The real estate market on the Albanian Riviera also seems to benefit from the annual growth in tourist numbers. In addition to hundreds of thousands of Kosovars who spend their summer holidays in Albania, more than 620,000 other foreign tourists came to the country in the summer of 2015 alone, according to the Albanian customs authorities. For a country with fewer than three million inhabitants, these numbers are very high. The fact that the Balkan country is attracting more and more tourists is good news for the property market, says Konomi: "Because we are mainly dealing with buyers who are interested in apartments on the coast. There were many who started out as tourists and then later decided to buy something. "

"So far, nothing of crime noticed"

This potential makes Ilir Konomi optimistic. Albania is becoming better known and is now represented on major international holiday portals on the Internet - and slowly it is also becoming competitive. "The country not only offers sun, sea, a good climate, beautiful nature and helpful people," he proudly emphasizes. "It's especially the low prices that attract people. You can buy a holiday apartment here for as little as 30,000 to 60,000 euros. Given the current low interest rates, many people in Europe are thinking about such an investment."

The low prices also convinced Hans-Dieter Blaser from Munich. He bought an apartment in Saranda. "The price was okay for the risk of investing in the country. The location is excellent. Overall, I'm very satisfied," he says.

The coastal city of Saranda seems to be high on the wish list of foreign buyers. From there you can get to Corfu very quickly. There is an airport on the Greek island - an advantage for the small Albanian coastal town of Saranda. From the point of view of the Norwegian Christen Dale, this geographical location also speaks in favor of buying a holiday home in Saranda: "We have now vacationed there and love the place more and more. We have heard of crime, but so far we have not heard anything about it. Saranda seems more peaceful to me than any other small town in Norway. The only problem for us is the language, but we meet many who speak English. "

Illegal structures on the coast

Christen Dale: Examine sales contracts particularly carefully

But the Albanian adventure also harbors a completely different risk, say several customers of the "Albania Property Group". There are a lot of illegal buildings in Albania, especially on the coast. Christen Dale therefore wants to check the sales contracts particularly carefully. The German Hans-Dieter Blaser also mentions difficulties and disadvantages: "The administration is not gaining momentum, the notarial processing was not easy." He is still missing an entry in the land register.

Ilir Konomi from the "Albanian Property Group" sees the long road to an entry in the land register of the newly acquired real estate as the greatest obstacle to the development of tourism in Albania: "We take great care and check everything in advance before we offer foreign customers offers make. But it's true, the land register entries are missing. "

Many Albanians are hoping for a comprehensive judicial reform and expect nothing less than a renewal of the country. But it could be many summers for locals, tourists and foreign property buyers before such hopes are fulfilled. "Albania is a developed and an undeveloped country at the same time": This is how Svein Augland from Norway sums it up.