Investment in Croatia has stagnated in certain important areas, despite interest from domestic investors having been drawn to other more promising areas, such as the hotel sector. Foreign investment in Croatia, despite having occurred in some quite large projects, is still dwindling.
As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 1st of March, 2019, the focus of investors last year was largely on shopping centres and of course the apparently eternal hotel sector, although figures didn’t exceed those seen during the year before the crisis hit. The value of commercial real estate transactions last year was twice as high as it was during 2017, reaching about 810 million euros.
While, as stated, the main focus of investment in Croatia has been on shopping centres and the hotel sector recently, there has been considerably less movement in numerous other areas, the number of construction projects seeing investment in Croatia, for example, has not yet overtaken the position it held the year before the crisis. The market for industrial and logistics property is still easily the least developed of all, despite its enormous potential and demand, and the office space market is most lacking in large office space available, according to an annual review carried out by the Colliers International consultancy company.
“The growth in the number of transactions last year is a result of the positive sentiment of investors and attractive returns, given that Croatia has stabilised economically in relation to the markets in the environment, the investment risk has been reduced, as the rating agencies showed. However, there’s still a lack of greenfield investments and major projects, as well as there is a large number of foreign investors missing from the picture,” said Vedrana Likan, the director of the Colliers Croatian office.
Once again last year, domestic investors wanting to pursue investment in Croatia were the by far the most active on the market, accounting for 50 percent of all value transactions, while the most active foreign investors were property investment funds from South Africa, with a 40 percent stake in the volume of transactions in 2018. The top transactions were the entry of PND Strategy of Danko Čorić into Hotel Maestral, Immofinanz bought eight retail parks in Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia, while the Tower Property Fund purchased industrial property in Žitnjak.
This year, a similar number of transactions are expected, just like last year, with a boost of the presence of investors from the Middle and Far East, China, the United Arab Emirates, and Korea. Most transactions are expected in tourism and office property, while retail will have weaker growth due to the fact that the market is already quite saturated. In the retail segment, the potential risk in Colliers is reflected in negative demographic trends and ever-growing internet commerce.
The need is for larger office spaces of 1,500 square metres, and such spaces are almost unavailable on the Croatian market, there is also a dire need for office class A. Despite the low office vacancy rate (4.5 percent) this area has remained at the level of 2017 (12-13 euros per square metre). Colliers has seen stronger developer activity due to the high demand and the lack of modern storage and logistics space(s)available, they have also warned of unfavourable conditions for the construction of such buildings due to high communal fees, which are still charged in Croatia per cubic metre rather than per square metre.
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