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.
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.
Unlike earlier expectations the market of luxury property in Bulgaria has also experienced price decreases. Rich buyers bargain and refuse to pay the high prices for top properties in the Bulgaria. As result prices of luxury properties have dropped by 1 million levs on average according to market analysts. The most striking example is a luxury apartment close to the National Theatre in Sofia which appeared on the market last year with asking price of 2 million Euros. The total area of the apartment was 253 sq m and this was the top price for the country – of 7905 EUR per sq m. The apartment is located in a listed building constructed in 1912. A year later the seller has dropped the asking price to 1,5 million EUR or 5929 EUR per sq m.
At the same time the price of a house close to Perla Hotel in Dragalevsty has dropped by half a million Euros to 2,5 million EUR. The total area of the three-flour house is 900 sq m and it has 7 bedrooms and six bathrooms as well as inside pool, jacuzzi and sauna.
Another striking example of a price decrease of a luxury property is in the affluent suburb of Plovdiv – the village of Markovo. A year ago this property, with total are of 2417 sq m used to sell for 2,5 million EUR. In the last few months its price has dropped to 2 million Euros.
Prices of apartments in prefabricated apartment blocks are higher by 100 Euros in Sofia. In middle class areas like Mladost and Borovo in the outskirts of the capital prices of prefabricated apartments vary from 550 Euros to 900 Euros per square metre. Newly built properties in those areas vary from 450 Euros to 850 Euros per square metre.
In the central parts of Sofia the prefabricated apartments sell for 1240 Euros per sq m while newly built ones for 770 Euros.
This is due to several reasons. One of them is that some of the newly built apartments are not of good quality. Some of the owners of prefabricated apartments on the other hand keep the prices from last year in their attempt not to lose money. In order to attract buyers, the developers offer free furnishing of at least one room as a bonus. However, despite the falling prices there are only a few buyers who are ready to pay in cash. Many developers offer payment in instalments, only to attract new buyers.
Despite the fact that the number of purchases has slightly increased, there are no expectations that the property prices will increase in the next three months. To the contrary, all professionals expect further reduction of the prices.
The recession has led to diversification of the rental market in Bulgaria. Many tenants are unable to pay high rent because of decreasing incomes and the landlords have reacted accordingly – in the last 12 months while in some parts of Sofia rents have increased by 15 %, in others it has decreased by 20%. The area where the property is situated is of primal importance, as well as the condition of the property itself. The size of the property is more and more important. It is very difficult to find studios as they are in demand. Their rent have remained more or less the same in the last twelve months, even in expensive parts of Sofia like Lozenets, Oborishte and Yavorov. In these areas studios can be rented for 250 Euros per month, while in the central parts of the capital the rent has decreased from 291 Euros to 257 Euros. At the same time studios is in the area of the Medical Academy now rent for 22% more than last year, the highest increase in the city.
The rent of one-bedroom apartments in the expensive areas like Boyana have decreased by 25% as there is no demand. In March 2007 a one-bedroom apartment in Boyana rented for 400 Euros per month but now it rents for 300 Euros. The tendency is the same in affluent Dianabadt and Strelbishte, while in Kniazhevo, Lagera and Mussagenitsa rents of one-bedroom apartments have increased by 15%.
The recession is most seriously felt in the renting of two-bedroom apartments. The demand is so limited that although landlords have put down rents, still tenants can not be easily found. The decrease of rents have reached 20% and in upmarket Lozenets such apartment can be rented for 570 Euros on average, which is 100 Euros less than last year.
Generally,the purchase prices of the most popular apartments have gone down to the prices of 2007.