Find out on time everything you need to know to buy a piece of land!

Šime Unić
Find out on time everything you need to know to buy a piece of land!

Is buying a plot of land really worth it? The comparison between the prices of farmland in 2019 and the average price per square meter of an apartment or house is unbelievable. In 2019, the average price of one hectare of arable land, which was the most expensive, was 24,174 HRK. That might seem like a huge sum, but this means that one square meter of arable land cost only 2.51 Croatian kunas! Pastures went for the lowest prices – 1.35 HRK per meter squared!

Buying prices aside, it’s necessary to have in mind several factors when investing in a plot of land. Especially if you’re planning on repurposing your farmland into a building plot later down the line. 

Building or Farming Plot – Which to Choose?

Whether you’re buying a plot of land for building or farming, its location and size are going to influence its price the most. The second to largest influencing factor is its purpose. It’s evident that farmland is significantly cheaper than building land, the price of which can vary anywhere from 14 to 170 euros per square meter. 

But before you rush off to buy your plot of farming land, you should bear in mind that this type of plot, according to the Croatian Agricultural Land Act needs to be repurposed into a building plot before you're allowed to start building on it. The exceptions to this rule are what are defined as “simple buildings” and those of a similar nature which do not have a residential purpose (more on this in the Croatian By-laws on Simple and Other Buildings and Works). More on this topic a bit later. 

The usage of agricultural and building plots is also strictly defined by corresponding laws. So, the Agricultural Land Act defines farming land as arable land, gardens, meadows, pastures, orchards, olive gardens, vineyards, fishponds, swamps, as well as any other land that can be used for agricultural production. The Building Act governs all other types of building and plot types, whereas the Spatial Planning and Development Act defines building land as that which is located within a building area or a building plot. 

Your final decision on buying a piece of land will depend on your needs and intentions. If you really intend on using the land for agricultural purposes, then you know what to do. But any potential repurposing significantly changes (and complicates) matters. 

Building or Farming Plot – Which to Choose?

Choosing a Location

When you’ve decided on the type of land you're planning to buy, you are, of course, left with deciding on the location! This is possibly the most important factor for most buyers since it’s precisely location that determines the price of the land and of potential future buildings that you’ll be constructing on it.

Of course, the price of the land in more favorable locations, such as city centers or by the sea, will be significantly higher. Plots in isolated, less populated locations will cost less. So, it’s a shame to waste money on an expensive plot of land if you’re not going to fully utilize its potential. 

Likewise, the location will greatly determine if repurposing will be authorized or not. This is partly due to the fact that officials look at whether or not this repurposed land will be ecologically harmful, but also if it agrees with the spatial plan. 

Choosing a Location

Repurposing Agricultural Land

If you plan on (legally) building on a piece of farmland, it’s necessary to repurpose it. And this costs time and money. What’s more, repurposing is only possible if the plot fulfills certain criteria, depending on what category of agricultural land it falls under, whether the state has anything to gain from this, the size of the plot, its buildability factor, and, finally, your spatial plan in which you define its purpose, size, height, and any other characteristics of the construction(s) you plan to build on the site.

In the process of repurposing, officials will also look at whether or not the potential future building meets certain basic conditions as defined by the Building Act. These include access to a water supply, the sewage system, as well as other factors.  

The repurposing price is determined based on the size of the plot and varies depending on the city in which the land is located (i.e. it's location) and the category of agricultural land it falls under. For example, the fee for plots of particularly valuable and valuable arable land in Zagreb comes out to 50% of the total value of the land This percentage drops as the land becomes less “valuable”. So, the fee for plots located in a construction area can be as low as 5 to 2.5%. 

The decision on repurposing is delivered by the corresponding State Administrative Office for each county. Luckily, the process of filing a claim has been simplified and more information on the conditions and process of buying and repurposing land is available within the Physical Planning Information System, particularly its eRealEstate system. 

Repurposing Agricultural Land

What Should We Look Out for When Buying a Plot of Land?

In essence, you should have three things in mind when buying a plot of land:

  1. Location: think about where you’re buying the land depending on what you’ll be using it for. If it’s agricultural land, the topography is important, as well as the risk of flooding and other natural disasters, the nature of the surrounding land, the type and quality of soil, the size of the plot, and, of course, the final price. If the plot is intended for building, it's important whether it’s located in a downtown area. The latter category is particularly important if you’re planning on using the plot for tourism purposes. If so, we’d advise you to read our guide to buying farmland next to the sea
  2. Ease of Access: By this we don't just mean the transport infrastructure (access to roads), but also access to a water and sewage system, and to an electrical grid. Your utility charges, which you’ll have to pay at some point, will vary based on these factors so these numbers are also worth factoring in.  
  3. The Legal Aspect: The amount of laws and by-laws we've mentioned so far points to the fact that it's important to know exactly for what you’ll be using your plot of land. With a brief survey of the cadastral register, you can determine whether your piece of land is located within a building area/plot or not, which will in itself make any further worrying about its repurposing redundant. Also, you’ll want to determine whether the land is protected and in what way (which will usually forbid the construction of any type of residential building). 

Armed with these notes and resources, we trust you’ll be able to come to the right decision for your needs and wants. Go about your purchase wisely since buying a plot of land is an investment, but one that will always pay off long term.

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