Archive for May 2009


Property Market in Bulgaria

May 29th, 2009 — 11:44am

More and more ex-pats who have bought holiday apartments on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast have put their properties on the market for sale. They do not have money to pay for the maintenance of their holiday apartments and would like to sell them as soon as possible, but there are no buyers.  Mainly Irish, British and Russian owners have put more than 10 000 properties on the market, all of them located in the stretch from Sunny Beach to Sozopol.

In the Bulgarian cities the tendency is exactly the opposite. There is a growing interest among prospective buyers due to the fact that prices have fallen between 16% and 38% in the first four months of this year. In the capital Sofia the apartments with living area of 50 to 70 sq m are most in demand. The most popular areas are Liulin, Mladost, Dianabadt, Ovcha Kupel, Nadezhda and Zona B17. The lowest price has been registered in Liulin and it is 454 Euros per sq m for an off-plan property.

Estate agents claim that at the moment buyers have much higher expectations from a property. They insist on location close to the public transport and on quality construction work and materials.

The reason for the raising interest among prospective buyers is the fact that banks have started giving more mortgages and there are people who have savings that can pay for at least 50% of the price of the properties. The average size of the mortgage in Bulgaria at the moment is 35 000 Euros, a decrease by 15 000 Euros in comparison with 2008.

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Comment » | Bulgaria, Property

Property Market – Overview

May 28th, 2009 — 11:08am

After the fall of the number of sales of properties and the price drop, the construction industry in Bulgaria and Romania has reached the bottom in the first half of 2009.  Most of the developers in both countries turned out to be unprepared for the shrinking of the local property market and the end of the constant influx of foreign investors of the last couple of years.  One of the major reasons for the sharply decreasing number of purchases is the limited access to mortgages which also caused the property prices to drop.  At the same time the number of the properties on offer continues to grow.  The shrinking of the property market has made many developers put on hold their new projects and drop the prices.  It is expected that the price drop in Sofia and Bucharest this year will be between 10% and 20%. At the end of 2008 the average property price in Sofia was 1250 Euros per sq m while in Bucharest it was 1800 Euros per sq m. The highest prices were in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana – 2800 Eurso per sq m.

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Comment » | Bulgaria, Property

Repossessions

May 28th, 2009 — 10:46am

A repossessed one-bedroom apartment in an affluent area of Sofia can be purchased for 25 000 Euros at an auction. According to the court statistics there is a boom in the number of the auctioned repossessed properties in the last few months. The information about these auctions is displayed in the municipalities and the auctions take place at the regional courts. A repossessed property is evaluated by a judge who then auctions it at 50% of the market price. Due to the recession and the collapse of the property market, there is no interest in repossessed properties. If such a property does not sell, it is offered again at an auction a month later at a price which is further 20% decreased. The expectations are that the number of the repossessed apartments will continue to grow.

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1 comment » | Bulgaria, Property

Construction Indursty in Bulgaria

May 25th, 2009 — 10:47am

The planning permissions for apartment buildings which have been issued in the first three months of 2009 have been by 40% less than in the same period of 2008, according to the National Statistics Institute. 1470 projects have received planning permissions from January to March 2009. They are for 6530 apartments with a total area of 895 173 sq m. The number of the apartments has decreased by 49% and of the total area, also by 49% in comparison with the same period of 2008.

79 office buildings, as well as 978 other type of buildings – industrial, etc – have received planning permissions. The number of administrative buildings is by 21% less, while their total area has increased by 21%. The number of all other types of buildings has decreased by 36% and their total area has decreased by 44%.

The only tendency that continues into 2009 from the same period of 2008 is that the major part of the planning permissions for new apartment buildings have been issued in the large administrative centres of the country -
Burgas – 185, Sofia – 182, Varna – 170, and Plovdiv – 158. The number of newly planned apartments in Sofia is 1340, in Varna – 1 305, in Burgas – 896, in Blagoevgrad – 668 and in Plovdiv – 537.

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Comment » | Bulgaria

Bulgaria is turning into a black hole for some Irish investors

May 21st, 2009 — 12:10pm

Jack Fagan, Irish Times

AROUND THIS time of year, the newspapers are generally packed with large ads for overseas real estate. That has been going on for over a decade but, in recent years, Bulgaria and other former Eastern Bloc countries have been particularly active in targeting Irish buyers who had a reputation for being big spenders during the Celtic Tiger years.

These overseas property ads are rarely, if ever, seen any more simply because Bulgaria’s real estate boom has turned to bust and Irish and UK buyers are fleeing due to rapidly falling values and the rising number of uncompleted developments.

Other former Eastern Bloc countries are suffering the same fate.

Bulgaria became a particular favourite for many Irish investors because holiday homes were frequently available at half, or even one-third, of the price of similar properties on the Costa del Sol. Attracted by unrealistic promises of exceptional returns, Irish investors had no hesitation in borrowing heavily to buy cheap buy-to-let homes.

Dublin mortgage agents say that, because of the refusal of Irish banks generally to fund property investments in Bulgaria, many purchasers released equity from their homes or Irish-based property investments. Others used hot money in the belief that the Revenue had enough on its plate in tracing second homes and investments in Spain, France, Portugal and other popular destinations without traipsing through the former Eastern Bloc.

“A great deal of the money invested in Bulgaria never appeared on the radar. It would be hard to trace,” says one of Dublin’s largest mortgage lenders.

Tom McGrath, a Dublin solicitor specialising in the overseas residential markets, says that a combination of naivety and greed led many Irish people to buy up to five properties in Bulgaria with the intention of “flipping” them on before they were completed to make a profit.

Any number of estate agents had recommended this as a fool-proof way of making money but the reality was different and they have been left “with properties that they do not want, cannot sell and cannot afford to complete on”.

The market in Bulgaria is over-supplied and pretty well on the floor. Real estate agencies say that at least one-third of the 2,200 foreign-owned holiday flats in Bansko – one of the country’s top ski towns – are on the block again, often at half price.

One media report has suggested that some Black Sea hotel owners have offered their debt-laden businesses for sale for €1 – grim news for tourism, Bulgaria’s top foreign investment sector.

The property market in Bulgaria, like Ireland, has had a hard landing. Construction firms have been laying off workers and, with bank borrowing getting more difficult, many developers are finding it increasingly hard to complete schemes.

McGrath says that promises of guaranteed rent from developers are often unfulfilled and these properties were overvalued in the first instance to take account of this arrangement.

Investment in the property sector, which accounted for 30 to 40 per cent of GNP in the past few years, brought an immediate profit, says local economist Tihomir Bezlov: “Real estate for Bulgaria was like oil and gold for other countries.”

The same could probably be said of Ireland but, unlike Bulgaria, there was never any suspicion here that the industry was being used to launder money from criminal proceeds.

Bulgaria’s authorities have admitted they cannot prove where the money that fed the boom came from. Could some of the proceeds of the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast in 2004 be in the Black Sea? There’s a thought.

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