Home hunt in Montenegro: a villa by the bay with a mountain landscape

This four bedroom semi-detached stone villa is located in Lepetane, a coastal village just north of the town of Tivat in southwestern Montenegro.

The 2,443-square-foot villa, built in 1820 and renovated five years ago, sits across a local road from the Bay of Kotor, a tourist paradise surrounded by mountains that flow into the Adriatic Sea. Its ‘cocoon’ design within a historic façade blends traditional Montenegrin construction with contemporary architecture and modern interior design solutions, said Boris Darmanovic, brokerage director at Montenegro Sotheby’s International Realty, which owns the list. .

The architect “brought an unexpected amount of light into the house,” Darmanovic said, using metal bridges to connect the sliding glass doors of the second-story rooms to the exterior walls. “It’s not typical for these houses.

Entrance is through a double arched wooden door in a stone wall encircling a tiled courtyard on the ground floor on the left side of the house.

The front door, at the top of a staircase, opens into a large room with classic Montenegrin stone walls and tiled floors. A curved, faux-leather floating sectional faces a fireplace with a TV mounted above. At one end is a dining table lit by twin shade chandeliers. The house is sold furnished.

To the left of the front door, an arch leads into the kitchen, which has stone walls and a stone barrel ceiling. An island is equipped with a white marble worktop, a sink and a hob. Along a cabinet wall is a refrigerator, oven, and a camouflaged powder room. A rear door opens onto a spacious terrace with a summer kitchen including a barbecue.

From the kitchen, a spiral staircase leads down to the spa on the ground floor. A heated indoor swimming pool is covered with ceramic tiles and a white marble coping. On the tiled floor are a sauna, a Turkish hammam and a bathroom with a shower. Double doors at the front of the billiard room open onto a walled open-air terrace near the road.

An office on the ground floor can be used as a bedroom and opens onto a courtyard with an antique stone basin and a storage area for firewood. A one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment for guests or staff has a separate entrance.

The wide hall on the second floor has a door to a side terrace. Sliding blinds, mounted under solar panels for hot water, protect the porch. Two bedrooms, each with oak floors and a sliding glass door, share a bathroom in the hall. A four-foot exterior deck connects the bedrooms from the glass doors to the window-sized openings on the front facade and decorative shutters (but no glass). Without a roof over the span, sunlight (and rain) poured in.

In the attic, the master bedroom has oak floors and sloping walls with wooden beams. A sliding door opens onto a balcony with a view of the bay.

There is parking for two cars across the road by the water. A stone wall and sloping gravel area serves as the beach, and there is a mooring for a 30-foot boat.

The house is just over a kilometer and a half from the center of Tivat and Porto Montenegro, a marina with luxury residences, upscale restaurants, designer shops and a boutique hotel. The walled town of Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with coastal churches and a maze of cobbled streets, is a 25-minute drive away. Tivat International Airport is 20 minutes away.

The pandemic damaged the economy of Montenegro, a nation of 660,000 inhabitants, “more than any other country in the region, causing a 15% drop in GDP” and an increase in unemployment of 15.3 to 20%, according to a report from the US State Department. .

Kieran Kelleher, managing director of Dream Estates Montenegro, a subsidiary of Savills, said the number of transactions at his company fell 55-60% last year, although prices fell 10-15% less alarmingly . “We predicted a bigger price drop due to the coronavirus,” he said, but that didn’t happen, “mainly because the developers knew they had better wait”.

Last fall, Leila Calic, director of Resido Montenegro, noticed “a significant increase in requests to move to Montenegro full time”. Long-term rentals and buying started to pick up in December and haven’t stopped.

“I don’t recall a summer when we were so busy with purchase requisitions,” Ms. Calic said, noting that buyers often watch while they’re on vacation. “This summer is different. They come to buy.

Niko Lakovic, Managing Partner and Sales Director of Montenegro Sotheby’s International Realty, said 2021 “is booming and people are buying second homes.”

At Mr Lakovic’s office inquiries are up 500% and the number of sales along the coast of Montenegro is up “by 60-70% compared to last season, when we were almost completely closed to arrivals, ”he said. Prices are now comparable to 2019, but “demand is increasing a lot”.

Prices are “fairly stable” for villas at the moment, but new apartments have increased by at least 10-15%, in part due to the higher cost of building materials. “The construction is really dynamic,” Ms. Calic said.

Foreigners make up 99% of buyers in the “prime” or top 2% of the market, Kelleher said, noting that prices range from 7,500 to 10,000 euros per square meter or ($ 825 to $ 1,100 per square meter). square foot) for the beach front properties and “in new luxury resorts”.

Far from the Adriatic coast of Montenegro, the “secondary market” for small condominiums is “quite resilient” and “more suited to locals, but foreigners buy there as well,” Kelleher said. Prices range from 2,000 to 2,500 euros per square meter or ($ 220 to $ 275 per square foot).

Penthouses, townhouses and villas in luxury marina complexes like Porto Montenegro and Portonovi sell together with traditional Montenegrin stone houses by the sea.

“People buy good properties and buy bigger properties and houses by the water,” Lakovic said. At the high end, prices go up to $ 10 million for a three-bedroom waterfront home.

But Mark Wilde, director of Montenegro Real Estate, has warned that residential prices are uneven. If two houses next to each other are for sale, “one is double the price of the other. The hardest part is finding the right property at the right price. ”

Buyers are from the United States, Canada, Turkey, Serbia, Ukraine, Britain, Western Europe, China, Lebanon and other countries in the Middle East, agents said. .

“The Russians always come, but not so many in the past,” Ms. Calic said.

Some American buyers who left as children are returning, Mr. Wilde said. “People who went to America and made a lot of money come back here and buy a second home,” he said. “We even get people coming back and buying their old family homes. “

So far, about half of buyers in the United States, China and the Middle East use a citizenship-by-investment program, paying a minimum of 450,000 euros ($ 535,000) for coastal properties or 250,000. euros ($ 297,000) for units of new hotel developments in the ski area. northern region, plus a government tax of 100,000 euros ($ 119,000) for the gold passport. But a new coalition government, which took over from the pro-Western Democratic Socialist Party that had ruled the small Balkan nation for 29 years, could cancel the program, Kelleher said.

Still, the 9 percent personal and corporate tax rates are “an incentive” for buyers, Lakovic said. Montenegro, which declared independence from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro in 2006 and joined NATO in 2017, plans to join the European Union by 2025.

There are no restrictions for foreign buyers. Home purchases can be done directly, without incorporating a company, Lakovic said.

There is no real estate transfer tax on a new property purchased from a developer; a 3 percent transfer tax is paid on resales, Kelleher said.

Although notaries handle closings, lawyers can be used to close complex contracts and are a necessity “to make sure everything is done correctly,” Kelleher said. He added that mortgages are difficult for foreigners to obtain.

Montenegrin, Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian and Croatian; euro (1 euro = $ 1.19)

The property taxes on this house are approximately 1,200 euros ($ 1,425) per year.

Niko Lakovic, Montenegro Sotheby’s International Realty 011-382-67-310-006; sothebysrealty.me

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