Archive for July 2012


PROPERTY SALES AND RENTS IN SOFIA

July 27th, 2012 — 11:25am

The buyers of properties in the Bulgarian capital Sofia are looking for smaller apartments this year. In the first half of 2012 51% of the buyers were looking for apartments with a total area between 50 and 80 sq.m. The popularity of the bigger apartments with total area between 80 and 120 sq.m. has decreased by 10%.
This tendency is connected to another one – decreasing of the budged of the prospective buyers. In 2011 most buyers were planning to spend between 50 000 and 80 000 Euros for a property, while in the first half of 2012 only a third of them are prepared to do so. Another third of the buyers now are prepared to spend between 30 000 and 50 000 Euros.
The demand for more expensive apartments with prices exceeding 120 000 Euros has decreased in favour of the demand for apartments under 30 000 Euros.
The greatest demand is for apartments located in the central parts of Sofia, followed by apartments in Borovo and Manastirski Livadi.

Most of the rents are focused on apartments with a total area between 50 and 80 sq.m. The share of the large apartments for rent exceeding 120 sq.m. is growing. Half of the tenants are prepared to pay a rent above 250 Euros per month. At the same time the number of tenants looking for rents under 150 Euros per month is steadily decreasing.

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INFLATION IN BULGARIA

July 17th, 2012 — 11:19am

In June 2012 Bulgaria remained one of the three EU countries with the lowest inflation. According to Eurostat the inflation in Bulgaria was 1.6%. In comparison, it was 1,8% in May. In the first place with the lowest inflation is Sweden with 0.9% and in the second is Greece with 1%. The highest inflation in June was in Hungary – 5.6%, followed by Estonia and Malta with 4,4%. Generally, in the EU the annual inflation has dropped in 8 member states, it has remained the same in 8 and has increased in 10. For the Eurozone the inflation in June was 2,4% annually.

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BULGARIA – CHANGES IN IMMIGRATION

July 9th, 2012 — 12:38pm

Bulgaria decided to facilitate the granting of visas for Russians, Ukrainians and Moldovians as part of its strategy to compete with its neighbours Greece and Turkey for tourists from the former Soviet Union. As result now Russians can receive one year multiple entry visas if last year they have received tourist, business or private visit visas. Until now, Bulgarian visas for Russians were for 30 days. This is yet the second change in the Bulgarian immigration rules since January of this year when the Bulgarian government allowed non-EU citizens with Schengen visas to enter Bulgaria. After this changes Bulgaria expects the number of the visitors from the former Soviet Union to grow by 20%.

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BULGARIA’S ECONOMY

July 6th, 2012 — 10:37am

Published in The Economist

In a rough region
Once Bulgaria hoped to be like Greece; now it just hopes to survive

ACCORDING to Ivan Krastev, a Bulgarian analyst, optimistic forecasters had the big hope 20 years ago that Bulgaria might become like Greece. That is to say, “moderately democratic, but moderately corrupt”. Now, he says, they hope that Greece may become like Bulgaria: poor, but financially disciplined and not making too big a mess for others.
So far Bulgaria has weathered the economic and euro crisis. Unemployment has crept up to 12%, but that is half the levels in Greece and Serbia. Over a million Bulgarians are thought to live abroad, working especially in Spain and Greece. Some have lost their jobs and come home, but the value of remittances sent back through banks has actually risen. In 2008 the official figure for remittances was €694m; last year it was up to €774m.
Bulgaria’s GDP grew by a modest 1.7% in 2011 and is expected to slow this year. A recent study suggests that as much as 30% of the economy is unrecorded. Bulgarians are also miserable. A poll by the Open Society Institute found that more than two-thirds of them expect the economy to stay the same or deteriorate in the next 12 months; and fully 56.7% find the situation in the country “unbearable”.
Bulgaria is the poorest country in the EU. Average wages are €3.50 an hour and average monthly salaries are just €360. As 10% of Bulgarian exports go to Greece and Greek banks hold 40% of all loans, it is hardly surprising that Bulgarians are on edge. What makes them especially nervous, says Vassil Vassiliev, a businessman, is their past experience that, whatever happens in western Europe, “comes here a year or two later.”
Mr Vassiliev sends organised groups of workers to other EU countries, especially for seasonal work. He worries that political pressure on companies to replace his workers with the domestic unemployed could affect his business and thus Bulgaria’s economy. Mr Vassiliev thinks the country needs a plan to steer away from excessive dependence on the euro zone.
In one area the market is already changing. The crash of 2008 left huge numbers of unsold holiday flats along the Black Sea coast. When the builders went bust, many of these ended up in the hands of banks. Since then, middle-class Russians have been buying them, says Tzvetelina Borislavova, a banker left with thousands of flats.
Many Bulgarians who do not like the government of Boyko Borisov, a populist prime minister (who once lived with Ms Borislavova), fret about fraying democracy. Parliament has become a “rubber stamp”, complains Borislav Tsekov, an analyst, echoing a belief that business lobbies secure laws favourable to themselves. Several thousands took to the streets recently to protest against a law on forests that was welcomed by builders of ski resorts. The government is backtracking.
Perhaps most worrying is the state of the media. Mainstream newspapers are owned by banks or powerful companies. There is little investigative reporting. Advertising by the government and by state-owned companies is a big source of revenue for newspapers; because of that, self-censorship is the order of the day, argues Valeri Tsenkov, an editor. But Nikolay Mladenov, Bulgaria’s foreign minister, says that what he finds most annoying is “the continual decline in the quality of journalism”. He does not see the link with self- censorship.

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BULGARIAN STATE BONDS

July 3rd, 2012 — 11:01am

Bulgaria has sold state bonds to the value of 950 million levs (425 million euros) on the international market with interest of 4.5% which is much lower than the interest of the Italian and Spanish state bonds. The number of the buyers was five times higher than the number of the state bonds. The market profit of the bonds is 4.436% which is higher than the one of the German state bonds that are considered to be safe and not risky. Most of the buyers were German investors, but there were also some from Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

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