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 Bulgaria on the rise

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PostSubject: Bulgaria on the rise   Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:18 pm

Fingers crossed they have got their facts right. Angel

Bulgaria on the rise

As we head into 2015, the overseas property market in Bulgaria is slowly emerging back on to the radar of British buyers. It fell long and hard after the global downturn but the signs are finally there that the downward trend of house prices is reversing – a little.

It’s not just agent hearsay. According to the Bulgarian National Statistics Institute (NSI), property prices in Bulgaria registered their third annual increase of +1.6 per cent in the third quarter of 2014. This rate increases to 4 per cent in the capital of Sofia, and to a lesser extent in other major cities, in contrast to incredibly low prices in rural prices.

Yet the appeal that drew droves of British and Irish buyers to Bulgaria’s emerging market in the early Noughties is still there: the golden beaches of the Black Sea Coast, the genuinely wild and unspoilt mountainous countryside with friendly villages, and the terrific skiing.

Middle-class Russians and Ukrainians are now the big players in the overseas market on the Black Sea Coast – Sunny Beach, St Vlas and Nesebar – where agents report that prices have increased by 10 per cent in 2014 but at the other end of the scale demand for the rural areas remains very low, as rewarding as it can be for the slow but steady trickle of British individuals or families relocating. As one British buyer seeking a new start abroad puts it, where else can I buy a home for £10,000?

It’s the affordable skiing offered by the mountain resorts that still draws some British buyers – in contrast to the resiliently high prices of the Alps. The popular resort of Bansko currently costs €395 per square metre – to put this into context, the average price in Morzine – a mid-range French resort, is around €4,700 per square metre.

A leading holiday lettings portal reports that rental enquiries are up 10 per cent in Bansko, and some of the British owners are managing to rent out their apartments successfully, although their overall value may have dropped.

Meanwhile the cities, led by Sofia, are mainly drawing wealthy domestic buyers – with Varna, Burgas and Plovdiv the principal ones but attractive regional centres such as Veliko Tarnova – at one recent point voted the best town in Bulgaria” are attracting some lifestyle buyers for their mix of history, affordability or enduring traditional way of life.

Property hotspots in Bulgaria

British buyers have been primarily interested in three Bulgaria property markets – resorts on the Black Sea coast, apartments in the capital Sofia, and ski/golf properties in the countryside.

Sofia is leading the Bulgarian market recovery and has been targeted by overseas investors as well as wealthy domestic buyers. Prices there have increased for five consecutive quarters, and are currently the highest in the country at €760 per square metre (next up is Varna at €705 psm). Apartments for around the €50,000 mark are popular, or “luxury” examples for €120,000.

But it’s the Black Sea resorts that are also in demand and Russian and Ukrainian buyers are keeping prices stable – or even rising. Again, coastal properties with a sea view are relatively affordable to elsewhere, at €400 to €900 per square metre.

The summer season is a little short for investment buyers and travel options are limited off-season, but they are highly popular great resorts in the height of summer. The Russians community have firmly established themselves and even set up their own shops and businesses, although the northern Black Sea coast is a little less of a monoculture.

Varna, St Vlas, Sunny Beach and Burgas are the hotspots, and whilst you can get a small apartments from around £17,000, there are more expensive areas such as the Marina Dinevi in Sveti Vlas (also St Vlas) just five minutes from Sunny Beach where luxury apartments cost €150,000.

Swapping sun for snow, the three main ski resorts are at Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo. Borovets is the most accessible (from Sofia) and well-established resort and prices have remained firmer than in Bansko – it is around €650 per square metre. Pamporovo is the least developed in tourism and property market terms and weighs in at €400 per square metre, but Bansko is the best year-round resort, also offering golf and mountain-biking.

There’s even a friendly little community of expats who love the active life there, with a few of them remote-working part of the year.  

You can buy studio apartments in Bansko for €10,000 these days, but the average price is €22,500 which will get you a well-located two-bedrooms.  On a luxury resort such as the Pirin Golf & Country Club you can pay up to €300,000 for a spacious and high-quality home.

With quite a few properties for sale lower down the price scale (many with British sellers), there’s less chance of hefty capital appreciation for a few years than on the coast or in the cities mentioned above. Also be wary of properties listed as “Bansko” that are actually in outlying areas and not walkable to the resort centre at all.

Elsewhere,  a couple of other possibilities are worth noting: the medieval town of Veliko Tarnovo in North-Central Bulgaria that is a the former capital of the country. Well-connected by highway to Sofia and Varna, this attractive town with high-speed broadband offers houses in the centre for €100,000.

Alternatively, the wine-making area of Haskova in southern Bulgaria is even more affordable and can offer homes with a little vineyard for less than €20,000.

The process of buying property in Bulgaria

Recent changes have made it easier for foreigners to buy but using a good independent lawyer is essential. Bulgarian law allows foreigners to buy property in the country but with some limitations.  They can buy apartments in their own name (not just as a company, as before) as long as they don’t come with pieces of land – which most don’t.

If you are a buyer from the an EU state or European Economic Area (EEA) you can also buy house with a garden or a plot of land in your own name. Non-members must do so via registering a Bulgarian company (this isn’t complicated but it does require fees of around €300).

1. When you have found the right property it needs to be reserved and taken off the market. After the unit is selected as a rule the buyer has to pay a deposit to the amount of €2,000. Only after that will the property be marked as reserved on agent listings and will be no longer available for sale.

2. After paying the deposit a preliminary agreement with the owner is signed within 30 days. The agreement settles the basic conditions that will later be copied to the Notary Deed (or title deed). The conditions include a description of the property, price, conditions and terms of payment, and for off-plan properties – the term for finishing the property.

3. The Notary Deed is drawn up by the local notary public in the presence of the buyer and the seller. The notary public certifies the deed and registers it with the Registry Agency. Final contracts and the remaining monies are exchanged.

4.  A week after receiving the Notary Deed the agent’s lawyer will enter the details of the buyer of the property in the system of the Bulgarian National Statistics Institute. The property owner will then receive a card with a unique BULSTAT number (ID number) under which all issues related to the property will be accounted. Within a two-week period the agent’s lawyers should also register the property and its owner (the company) in the tax office.

Bulgaria Property: buying costs

These are relatively low, at around five per cent of the purchase price: agency commission of 3 per cent of the sales price plus notary fees and stamp duty tend add up to make between four and six per cent, depending on the region of Bulgaria.
Need to know:

*Be wary of agents or sellers requesting cash (not bank transfer) payments or that they request a lower price is put on the title deed. Also make sure that you see in person that the property exactly matches that of the one referred to in the deeds. Don’t rely on merely photographs or plans.

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PostSubject: Re: Bulgaria on the rise   Wed Mar 11, 2015 9:11 pm

All sounds to be good lets hope so. We could all do with some good news and lets be honest investment or home this can only be good.
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PostSubject: Re: Bulgaria on the rise   Thu Mar 12, 2015 4:39 pm

Fingers crossed we could all do with a bit of good news T
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