Real Estate - the laws and the costs
The major legislative acts that governs real estate and real estate transactions in Albania are the Albanian Civil Code, the Law on Real Estate Registration, the Law on Sale and Purchase of Land Plots and the Law on Land.
According to the Albanian Civil Code, real estate constitutes land, water sources, woods, buildings, floating constructions connected to land and any other object firmly and continuously incorporated with the land or a building.
Foreign investors may lease state owned or privately owned rural land for a period of 99 years. The lease of rural land is regulated by the provisions of the Civil Code.
Types of ownership over real estate
Ownership of real estate in Albania may be public or private.
Public ownership includes properties of public interest and those designated for public use only and public functions, such as the coastal beach, national roads, forests and parks, streets, squares, museums and schools.
Public properties belong to the state and local units (municipalities and communes). They can be granted for operation to third parties through emphyteusis or lease upon satisfying conditions explicitly stated by law. In the latter case, the lease period for public state and municipal properties cannot exceed 20 years, as the granting of the lease in both cases is subject to public tender procedures.
Public properties cannot be disposed of (i.e. by sale purchase, donation, in-kind Contribution, exchange) and cannot be acquired on the basis of possession and expired prescription period. However, limited property rights (e.g. construction right) may be granted for municipal public properties and for state public properties (except for exclusively state owned properties and those related to national security), when provided by the law.
Private properties can belong to individuals, entities, the state and local government units (LGU) following the limitations provided for foreigners (see Section “Direct acquisition” below). Private properties can be subject to real estate transactions. The exchange of ownership title or construction right over private state and LGU real estate property can be performed only in cases explicitly specified in the law. The lease period for state and LGU private property cannot exceed 20 years and the granting of a lease is subject to public tender procedures or public private partnership procedures.
When the property belongs to two or more persons, co-ownership is established. The co-owners decide operations by majority and each has a right of first refusal in case of disposal of the property. The co-owners can authorize one of them to represent their coownership before third parties.
Evidence of title
The ownership title and limited property rights over real estate property in Albania are evidenced by ownership title documents (usually in the form of a notary deed). In addition, the law requires that title documents are registered at the Real Estate Registry. Once the ownership title is registered at the Real Estate Registry, the owner or co-owners are provided with an ownership certificate issued by the Real Estate Registry Office. By virtue of this registration, the acquisition of the ownership title or limited property rights becomes defendable against third parties.
The ownership certificate contains among others the name(s) of the owner(s), type of the real estate, its surface and location, any eventual mortgages, encumbrances or other limitations over such real estate. The ownership certificate is signed and sealed by the responsible officer of the Real Estate Registry Office.
Acquisition of real estate
The Albanian legislation on real estate does not provide explicitly for any restrictions for foreign individuals or entities to acquire the ownership over buildings. As regards land, pursuant to the Law on Sale and Purchase of Land Plots, foreign individuals or legal entities may purchase land plots for investment purposes, or land plots being used or already used for investment purposes.
Foreign investors acquire the right to purchase land plots if the total value of the completed investment is at least three times higher than the value of the land plot.
The restrictions on the acquisition of land by foreigners do not apply to Albanian legal entities involving foreign participation. Therefore, foreign legal entities and individuals can effectively acquire ownership rights over land through the acquisition of shares or an interest in existing Albanian companies, or through the establishment of such companies under Albanian law. It is possible for such a company to be 100 percent owned by a foreign investor.
Another possibility for indirect acquisition of real estate in Albania for a foreign company or a foreign citizen is to buy shares in the capital of an already existing Albanian company, which then may act as acquirer.
Foreign companies and foreign citizens, furthermore, can acquire the shares in the capital of an Albanian company which already owns a real estate in Albania.
The general rule under Albanian law is that transactions involving real estate (e.g. a purchase and exchange) must be executed with a notary deed before a registered notary public.
The form of a notary deed is mandatory not only for transactions for transfer of ownership title over real estate properties, but also for establishment of limited property rights or encumbrances over real estate properties (e.g. construction right, right of use and mortgages).
After execution of the deed, the notary public and/or any of the parties are obliged to register the transaction into the Real Estate Registry in order to make the title of the acquirer defendable against third parties.
There are also special rules and procedures governing the acquisition of real estate arising from enforcement, insolvency and similar procedures.
Non-resident mortgage financing is available. Most of the banks are offering very competitive rates from as little as 5.5% for locals and from 7% (in Euros) for non-residents with terms from 1 to 30 years with options of interest payment only. Many of these banks are offering 100% mortgages loans to local buyers. For foreigners specific favourable terms are applicable and some banks do not even request the client to come to Albania so the process can be done online or through a broker.
Property Purchase Cost
Taxes Income Tax - Payable at 15% of the gained income, ie the 15% of the difference between the sale value and purchase price.
VAT (Value Added Tax): Not applicable
Immovable Property Registration Office Tax
- Purchase registration fee is approximately 27 Euro
- Obtaining a certificate (title deed tax) cost 6 Euro.
- Municipality Registration Tax 2 - 7 Euro/sqm
Legal Fees Notary Fee:
These are fixed by the law and operate on a sliding scale. Then add 20 % VAT on this amount and Stamp Fees approx 8 Euro.
714 Euro - 43.000 Euro: 0.35 %
43.000 Euro - 107.000 Euro: 0.30 %
107.000 Euro -357.000 Euro: 0.28 %
357.000 Euro - 714.000 Euro: 0.25 %
over 714.000 Euro: 0.23 %
Additional Legal Representation Depending on the complexity of the contract, lawyer’s fee will come around 300 Euro to 700 Euro.
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