Albania property boom expected in next five years, experts claim

Albania is set to become an attractive place for overseas property investment in three to five years, according to industry experts.

The government is actively encouraging developers by offering business incentives and investing in major infrastructure changes. EU membership in the future will also benefit the property market.

'At this moment, Albania is a good market that should see improvement in housing stock, increases in office space, and the development of retail schemes and shopping centres,' said Philip Bay of real estate consultants Colliers International.

'The country is at an early state of real estate development and will become an attractive market in three to five years,' he added.

The transformation of this former Communist regime was signaled by an invitation last month to join NATO. It is actively forging closer political and business ties with the rest of Europe.

'This is still a virgin real estate market, but all the right moves are in place for growth in the next few years,' said Romeo Sherko, a local business adviser with IkubInfo.

On the commercial front low property prices have already lured investors from Israel, Arab countries and from elsewhere in the Balkans who are hoping to build shopping malls and other retail businesses.

Eno Bozdo, the deputy economy minister, said land had been earmarked by the government to create six business parks, one of them up to 850 hectares (2,100 acres), all with good sea and airport access.

Albania is on 'the very cusp of a property boom', according to Robin Barrasford, managing director of Barrasford and Bird Worldwide. 'As pioneers of the Bulgarian property market, our experience indicates Albania is one of the last European countries that will offer excellent returns for investors.'

Mr Barrasford added that the capital city of Tirana is likely to offer the highest return on any investment.

The tourist industry is also growing. Situated on the Adriatic and Ionian seas, Albania has stunning coastlines similar to those of Montenegro and Croatia. Tourist attractions including Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage site which was home to an ancient Greek colony and later a Roman city. In the capital, Tirana, the bustling city centre of Skanderbeg Square is a protected site of great significance and outside the city limits Dajti Mountain offers beautiful views and dramatic scenery.