Real estate values have taken as much of a beating in Slovakia as anywhere else since January. After more than 20 % growth in each of the past two years, residential prices have tumbled up to 40% in 2009, especially for luxury housing.

Despite the fall, prices are still fairly high, especially in the capital (an average of €2,137 per sq metre): Bratislava leaped 15 places in the Mercer’s cost-of-living survey this year, and is now the world's 30th most expensive city, ahead of all its regional neighbours. A large part of the increase is due to Slovakia joining the euro zone last year, while countries such as Poland and Hungary saw their currencies fall steeply against the euro.

However, the uncertainty unleashed by the crisis has frozen credit and virtually halted new development.

Financial Times