"Living room real estate agencies"proliferate, but few are real pros

Following the 1989 fall of Communism, real estate agencies sprouted up all over Slovakia. Some blossomed into professional deal-brokers, others wilted due to lack of resources. The preponderance of agencies is largely due to the fact that anyone who has a general trade license can sell or lease real estate. They do not need to be specifically licensed as a real estate agent. Illustrating this point are the nearly 300 real estate agencies listed in Bratislava business registries. The biggest agencies are united in the Association of Realty Offices of Slovakia (ARKS), which has 20 members, and the Union of Real Estate Offices of the Slovak Republic (ZRKSR), which has 42 members. Membership in ARKS, whose members are mostly in Bratislava, is more expensive than membership in ZRKSR, whose members are more geographically dispersed.

Following the 1989 fall of Communism, real estate agencies sprouted up all over Slovakia. Some blossomed into professional deal-brokers, others wilted due to lack of resources. The preponderance of agencies is largely due to the fact that anyone who has a general trade license can sell or lease real estate. They do not need to be specifically licensed as a real estate agent. Illustrating this point are the nearly 300 real estate agencies listed in Bratislava business registries.

The biggest agencies are united in the Association of Realty Offices of Slovakia (ARKS), which has 20 members, and the Union of Real Estate Offices of the Slovak Republic (ZRKSR), which has 42 members. Membership in ARKS, whose members are mostly in Bratislava, is more expensive than membership in ZRKSR, whose members are more geographically dispersed. To gain membership, agencies must pay a fee, adhere to the standards of the associations, and keep commissions between 3 and 6 percent. These associations can refer you to their members and if any problems occur, the association is a good place to turn to for help.

Beware of what Melánia Čupíková of ARKS calls "living-room real estate agencies." These are agencies with one employee, working out of a flat, with little or no experience.

When approaching a new agency, ask for references. Find out what their experience in the real estate market is. the number of projects they have completed, what their fee is, and whether they are members of any association. Some agencies might hesitate to give you a number of projects that they have completed.

We list real estate agencies in Bratislava (see pages 6 and 7). All claim to be able to meet any needs, yet few of them were able to provide complete information. HB Reavis and Bratislavská Realitná Kancelária were the only ones to provide the number of square meters they have sold or leased. Ten of the agencies have people who speak at least some English.

Real Estate Associations

ARKS, Nevädzová 5, 821 01 Bratislava, Tel/fax: 07/578-7223
ZRKSR, Ružová dolina 27, 824 69 Bratislava, Tel: 07/523-7455

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