Do you know the difference between an apartment and a flat? Until recently, I did not, since in English they are the same. But in the weird world of Slovak residential property, these are very different beasts – and the difference can, in theory, cost you a lot of money.
So can a whole lot else.
I recently went through the hair-raising process of buying a flat (not an apartment!) and this account, for what it is worth, describes how it worked – or, almost, did not.
Stage 1: Denial
My long-suffering partner had decided a while ago that we really should buy somewhere, and has been subtly dropping me property listings for a couple of years. Despite her impeccable logic, I was less than enthused by the idea: the prices of property in Bratislava seemed absurd, and I happen to like the panelák where we live.
But eventually, in my slothful way, it dawned on me that she was (of course) right: interest rates were still low enough to make buying possible (if not exactly affordable) and our paltry savings were about to get burned away by inflation.
I had some intuitive doubts about the process, and no great wish to deal with what we Brits call estate agents, Americans call realtors, and Slovaks, by some weird mishearing, have ended up calling brokers of ‘reality’ (has there ever been a less appropriate description?).
These doubts were not misplaced.