Real Estate

Croatia: Real Estate Agencies – What is the Client Actually Paying For?

The main purpose of real estate agencies is to help sell, buy or lease adequate property in a professional and reliable way and thus save their clients time and money. But is this always the case? According to certain statistics, in Croatia there are currently around 1,279 real estate agencies registered, of which around 100 are active.

Real estate agencies and the services they (should) provide

Con­di­tions for busi­ness activ­i­ties of licenced real estate agen­cies (Agency) in Croa­t­ia – as well as their oblig­a­tions and rights when pro­vid­ing inter­me­di­a­tion between buy­ers and sell­ers of real estate – are reg­u­lat­ed in detail under the Real Estate Inter­me­di­a­tion Act (REIA). In gen­er­al, an Agency incor­po­rat­ed in an ade­quate form and reg­is­tered for real estate inter­me­di­a­tion must obtain and main­tain a valid license1. All licenced Agen­cies car­ry­ing out busi­ness activ­i­ties in Croa­t­ia must be reg­is­tered as such with the pub­licly avail­able Reg­istry kept with the Croa­t­ian Cham­ber of Econ­o­my.

Under REIA an Agency must use its best efforts to con­nect buy­ers and sell­ers of prop­er­ty; to inform its client (buyer/seller) on mar­ket con­di­tions and oth­er rel­e­vant cir­cum­stances; to obtain and inspect own­er­ship, zon­ing and oth­er doc­u­ments; to mar­ket the prop­er­ty; to enable inspec­tion of prop­er­ty; to medi­ate in nego­ti­a­tions; and more.

The Agency is engaged on the basis of a writ­ten agency agree­ment con­clud­ed with its client for a def­i­nite peri­od. Such agree­ment, which may also be exclu­sive for a cer­tain client or prop­er­ty, must define the rights and oblig­a­tions of both par­ties in detail.

The Agency is enti­tled to an agency fee for its ser­vices, which is freely agreed on (usu­al­ly 3% of the pur­chase price of the sub­ject prop­er­ty) under the agency agree­ment. Accord­ing to REIA, the agency fee must be paid at the ear­li­est at the con­clu­sion of the inter­me­di­at­ed (pre)agreement between the client and the oth­er side. The Agency may, for exam­ple, be engaged by the buy­er on one side and sep­a­rate­ly by the sell­er on the oth­er side, and thus be enti­tled to an agency fee from both sides.

What to avoid in practice

Prac­tice shows that some Agen­cies choose not to per­form all the ser­vices an Agency is sup­posed to pro­vide under to REIA, and for which their client is actu­al­ly pay­ing. Below are some of the most com­mon vio­la­tions of Agency oblig­a­tions, as observed in prac­tice.

One of most fre­quent­ly encoun­tered sit­u­a­tions is that a person/company who is not a licenced real estate agency is engaged. With­out know­ing the require­ments pre­scribed for Agen­cies or where to check the basic cre­den­tials for an Agency, it may prove dif­fi­cult to recog­nise such a false real estate agency.

Even if an Agency is engaged, it may hap­pen that it is not famil­iar with even basic doc­u­ments prov­ing own­er­ship over prop­er­ty, with zon­ing doc­u­ments show­ing build­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties and restric­tions, or with stan­dard mar­ket terms and con­di­tions for sale and pur­chase con­tracts.

It is not rare that an engaged Agency requests pay­ment of an agency fee from the oth­er (inter­me­di­at­ed buyer/seller side) even with­out being engaged by such per­son. Due to the oth­er side’s lack of knowl­edge, Agen­cies get such “dou­ble” fees paid with­out hav­ing pro­vid­ed any ser­vice to the oth­er side.

The lack of engaged Agency’s famil­iar­i­ty with stan­dard mar­ket terms and con­di­tions may lead to unnec­es­sar­i­ly long and exhaust­ing nego­ti­a­tions, and even be a deal-break­er. Deal­ing with such lack of knowl­edge may be espe­cial­ly frus­trat­ing for attor­neys rep­re­sent­ing one of the par­ties.

Final­ly, a client should insist that pay­ments to and from the Agency (eg, earnest mon­ey from a buy­er) be done via wire. Cash pay­ments have led to “mis­un­der­stand­ings” and dis­putes. Also, an Agency is not allowed to ask for any pay­ments up front (except for cer­tain out-of-pock­et expens­es, if agreed upon).

Although it may appear that finding a qualified and trustworthy Agency is not easy, practice has shown that there are very competent and dedicated Agencies who know their job. In case of doubts about whether the Agency is doing its job properly, or to check whether the chosen agency is indeed an Agency, it may be a good idea to hire an attorney. Although seemingly more costly, this approach may prove to be the more cost- and time-saving option.

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Croa­t­ian Agen­cies car­ry a license issued by the Croa­t­ian Min­istry for eco­nom­ics. An Agency seat­ed in anoth­er EU mem­ber state must car­ry a licence accord­ing to their domi­cile reg­u­la­tions.

Hrvatska: Agencije za posredovanje u prometu nekretnina – Što klijent zapravo plaća?

Glavna svrha agencija za posredovanje u prometu nekretnina je pomoći prodati, kupiti ili iznajmiti odgovarajuću nekretninu na profesionalan i pouzdan način te time uštedjeti svojim klijentima vrijeme i novac. No, je li to uvijek slučaj? Prema određenim statistikama u Hrvatskoj je trenutno registrirano oko 1,279 agencija za posredovanje u prometu nekretnina, od kojih je samo oko 100 aktivno.

Agencije za posredovanje u prometu nekretnina i usluge koje pružaju odnosno koje bi trebale pružati

Uvjeti za poslo­van­je ovlaštenih agen­ci­ja za posre­dovan­je u prome­tu nekret­ni­na (Agen­ci­ja) u Hrvatskoj – kao i nji­hove obveze i pra­va pri­likom posre­dovan­ja između kupaca i pro­da­vatel­ja nekret­ni­na – detaljno su reg­uli­rani Zakonom o posre­dovan­ju u prome­tu nekret­ni­na (ZPPN). Općen­i­to, Agen­ci­ja osno­vana u odgo­vara­jućem obliku i reg­istri­rana za obavl­jan­je posre­dovan­ja u prome­tu nekret­ni­na mora ishodi­ti i pos­je­dovati val­janu dozvolu1. Sve ovlaštene Agen­ci­je koje poslu­ju u Hrvatskoj mora­ju biti reg­istri­rane kao takve u javno dos­tup­nom reg­istru koji se vodi pri Hrvatskoj gospo­darskoj komori.

Suk­lad­no ZPPN-u Agen­ci­ja mora učini­ti sve što je u njezi­noj moći kako bi kupce i pro­da­vatel­je nekret­ni­na dovela u vezu; obav­i­jesti­ti svog kli­jen­ta (kupca/prodavatelja) o tržišn­im uvje­ti­ma i drugim rel­e­vant­nim okol­nos­ti­ma; prib­av­i­ti i izvrši­ti uvid u isprave o vlas­ništvu, pros­tornom plani­ran­ju i druge isprave; oglaša­vati nekret­nine; omogući­ti pre­gled nekret­ni­na; posre­dovati u pre­gov­orima itd.

Angaž­man Agen­ci­je se temelji na pisanom ugov­oru o posre­dovan­ju u prome­tu nekret­ni­na koji se skla­pa s kli­jen­tom na neo­dređeno vri­jeme. Takav ugov­or, kojim se može ugov­oriti i isključi­vo posre­dovan­je za određenog kli­jen­ta ili nekret­ninu, mora sadrža­vati detaljne odredbe o prav­i­ma i obveza­ma obi­ju ugov­ornih strana.

Agen­ci­ja ima pra­vo na posred­ničku naknadu za svo­je usluge čija visi­na se može slo­bod­no ugov­oriti (uobiča­jeno iznosi 3% kupopro­da­jne cijene za odnos­nu nekret­ninu) u ugov­oru o posre­dovan­ju. Suk­lad­no ZPPN-u posred­nič­ka nakna­da se plaća tek nakon skla­pan­ja (pred)ugovora za koji je Agen­ci­ja posre­dovala između kli­jen­ta i druge ugov­orne strane. Agen­ci­ja može biti, prim­jerice, angaži­rana od strane kup­ca na jed­noj strani te, neo­vis­no o tome, od strane pro­da­vatel­ja na dru­goj strani te tako imati pra­vo na posred­ničku naknadu od obje strane.

Što izbjegavati u praksi

Prak­sa pokazu­je da neke Agen­ci­je ne pruža­ju sve usluge koje bi Agen­ci­je tre­bale pružati pre­ma ZPPN-u, a za koje usluge ih nji­hovi kli­jen­ti zapra­vo plaća­ju. Dol­je se navode neka od najčešćih kršen­ja obveza od strane Agen­ci­je, a kako su se pokaza­la u prak­si.

Jed­na od situaci­ja s kojom se najčešće može­mo sus­resti u prak­si je angaži­ran­je osobe/društva koje nije ovlašteni agent/agencija u posre­dovan­ju u prome­tu nekret­ni­na. Bez upućenos­ti u propisane zaht­jeve koje Agen­ci­je mora­ju ispun­ja­vati ili infor­ma­ci­je gdje prov­jer­i­ti osnovne ovlasti Agen­ci­je, može biti teško pre­poz­nati takvu lažnu agen­ci­ju za nekret­nine.

Čak i u sluča­ju kada se angaži­ra Agen­ci­ju, može se dogodi­ti da ista nije upoz­na­ta čak niti s osnovnom doku­mentaci­jom kojom se dokazu­je vlas­ništ­vo na nekret­ni­ni, s doku­mentaci­jom o pros­tornom plani­ran­ju koja gov­ori o mogućnos­ti­ma grad­nje i njezin­im ograničen­ji­ma ili sa stan­dard­nim tržišn­im uvje­ti­ma za kupopro­da­jne ugov­ore.

Nije rijedak slučaj da angaži­rana Agen­ci­ja zahti­je­va plaćan­je posred­ničke naknade od druge ugov­orne strane (kupca/prodavatelja) čak i kad nije angaži­rana od strane te osobe. Usli­jed nez­nan­ja te druge strane Agen­ci­je naplaću­ju takve “duple” naknade bez da su pružile bilo kakve usluge toj dru­goj strani.

Man­jak poz­na­van­ja stan­dard­nih tržišnih uvje­ta od strane angaži­ranih Agen­ci­ja može dovesti do nepotreb­no dugih i iscr­plju­jućih pre­gov­o­ra te čak biti “deal break­er”. Sus­re­tan­je s takvim man­jkom znan­ja može biti oso­bito frus­tri­ra­juće za odv­jet­nike koji zas­tu­pa­ju jed­nu od strana.

Na kra­ju, kli­jent tre­ba inzi­s­ti­rati da se plaćan­ja pre­ma i od Agen­ci­je (npr. kapara kup­ca) obavl­ja­ju preko raču­na (bez­go­tovin­sko plaćan­je). Gotovin­s­ka plaćan­ja dovode do “nes­po­razu­ma” i sporo­va. Također, Agen­ci­ja nema pra­vo zahti­je­vati plaćan­ja unapri­jed (osim za određene gotovinske izdatke, uko­liko je tako ugov­oreno).

Iako se može činiti da pronalaženje kvalificirane i pouzdane Agencije nije jednostavno, praksa je pokazala da postoje jako kompetentne i predane Agencije koje znaju svoj posao. U slučaju dvojbi da li Agencija pravilno obavlja svoj posao ili radi provjere da li je odabrana agencija uistinu Agencija, dobra je ideja angažirati odvjetnika. Iako se to može činiti kao skuplja varijanta, takav pristup se pokazao kao opcija koja štedi i novac i vrijeme.

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Hrvatske Agen­ci­je mora­ju imati dozvolu koju izda­je hrvatsko Min­istarst­vo gospo­darst­va. Agen­ci­ja koja ima sjedište u nekoj dru­goj državi člani­ci EU mora imati dozvolu izdanu suk­lad­no propisi­ma te države.