Albania on track for a bright future

Despite reluctance among some property investors to risk looking at emerging economies Albania has a bright future with sustainable growth, according to property experts.

The former Communist state may not immediately appeal but it is working hard to make itself an attractive destination for overseas property investors. Benefits include infrastructure improvements, membership approval of NATO and the EU, no restrictions for foreign buyers and a flat tax rate of 10%.

'We have been operating here for many years. We are very confident that Albania has a bright future and can look forward to sustainable growth. The country is at an early stage of real estate development and will become an attractive market in three to five years,' said Philip Bay, Regional Director of Colliers International Southeast Europe.

Albania achieved 6% economic growth during 2007 and has some of the cheapest property prices in Europe, with annual price growth of around 30% year-on-year in the capital, Tirana, and coastal regions.

Loans totalling more than €90 million from the Japanese and Austrian governments are being spent on major infrastructure improvements including upgrading the main Albanian port of Durres which is 35km from Tirana and an important link to the country's Balkan, Black Sea and EU neighbours.

Tirana International Airport was upgraded in 2007 when improvements included a new terminal building and airport access roads. The airport now has a capacity of around 1.5 million passengers and offers direct flights to and from London, New York and a range of European cities.

EU money and EU membership will help to ensure property prices will grow considerably over the next five to 10 years according to David Stanley Redfern.

A spokesman said Tirana property is popular, particularly the area around Tirana's artificial lake where prices start from just £26,000.

James, Gonzalez, Market Analyst at Obelisk, said the increasing amount of foreign investment in Albania is a major indicator for the growth of its property market. 'Within the last five years the number of commercial buildings springing up on the main road which runs between the airport and the city of Tirana has grown considerably and companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Peugeot, Citroen have moved in. Vodafone have been in Albania since 2001 and earlier this year announced that it was expanding operations there. I think this is definitely one to watch,' he said.