Tag: mortgage

Bulgarian Property Market

July 16th, 2009 — 11:54am

The average decrease of  property prices in Bulgaria is by 23% in the first six months of 2009. There are areas of the country and especially cities where due to  overpricing, now the decrease is exceeds 30%. The expectations of analysts are that by the end of the year prices will decrease further by 5% to 15%.

The most significant price decrease in the capital Sofia where the prices of newly built developments in the area of Obelya have dropped by more than 40%. The lowest price drop is in Student Town – by only 10%. In the affluent Lozenets and Iztok where the price exceeded 2000 Euros/sq m in 2008,  now there is a decrease by 1/3. The decrease is similar in Liulin and Ovcha Kupel. In the down-market Banishora the lowest price of newly built apartments is 390 Euros/ sq m.  The lowest prices are in the southern and the eastern parts of the city because there many apartments have been bought off-plan as investment and now they have been completed and put on the market.

In the first half of this year buyers preferred mostly one-bedroom apartments not exceeding 50 000 Euros per sq m.  In the last month two of every ten buyers have purchased in the end a bigger and more expensive apartment than planned in the beginning due to the lower prices.  The number of owners who sell their property to buy a bigger one has increased, as the difference in the price is lower than ever.

In most cases buyers used their savings for the purchase of a property, while 44% of them have taken small mortgages or even consumer loans. 32% of the buyers who took mortgages have problems repaying them regularly but only 17% of them cannot repay their mortgage at all.

Village houses with big yards sell even under their value around Veliko Turnovo, Pernik, Sliven, Haskovo and Yambol, as owners just want to get rid of them. In smaller towns the purchase of property is rarely for the purpose of investment but mainly it is in case of change of the marital status and the recession is felt stronger on the property market. Unemployment is growing faster and first time buyers are very cautious.

Comment » | Bulgaria, Economy

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.

Comment » | Bulgaria, Property

Mortgages In Bulgaria

May 13th, 2009 — 5:45pm

The mortgage applications in Bulgaria have increased by 20% in April in comparison to March 2009. They are mostly young professionals who work for foreign companies and have good incomes. They would like to take advantage of the good prices and think that it is worth paying higher mortgage interest. Most of them have savings which can pay for 50% of the price of the property that they would like to buy and answer to the stringent requirements of the Bulgarian banks which do not lend higher than 50% mortgages.

In connection with this and with the decreasing property prices, the average amount of the mortgage in Bulgaria has fallen down to 35 236 EUR, levels typical for the summer of 2007.

Comment » | Bulgaria, Economy

Mortgages And Property Market

April 24th, 2009 — 5:00pm

The number of mortgages lent in the first two months of the year in Bulgaria is twenty times lower in comparison with the same time last year. In January and February last year the banks lent mortgages to the value of 355 million levs, in the same months of this year the same figure was 18 million levs. The positive effect of the limiting of the landing is that for the first time in two weeks there is a tendency for decreasing the interest rate, although not by all banks. This decrease is of 0.54% for the mortgages in levs and 0.36% for the mortgages in euros. The average mortgage interest at the moment is 9.95%.

However, leading bankers think that in a recession the sensible policy is not to drop the interest rate. They have warned the developers to forget about the Brits and the Irish who used to buy all the properties at the Black Sea resorts and to focus on the Bulgarian customers, in order to survive the recession. It is expected that the Bulgarian property market will suffer mostly in September and October of this year.

According to developers the state must support the construction industry and the property market by pressing the water and electricity suppliers to offer better services.

Comment » | Bulgaria

The Mortgages Market in Bulgaria

March 24th, 2009 — 10:27am

Last year 60% of the mortgage applications in Bulgaria have been made for the purchase of a second home, according to Bulgarian bankers. Bulgarians used to buy properties for investment, expecting high returns and constantly increasing property prices.

This year the number of the mortgage applications have decreased ten times. According to bank managers this is due to the different expectations of sellers and buyers. The buyers expect prices to go further down and do not rush to buy, while sellers do not drop the prices of their properties and wait for the market situation to change back to the time of the property boom.

The banks lend much less money than before and cover a much smaller proportion of the price of the properties. At the same time prospective buyers are unwilling to take large mortgages and prefer smaller ones. Most of the buyers now have savings but they still need to borrow some money to buy a property.

Leading bankers think that the lending will not go back to the levels during the property boom of the last two years. They expect that at the end of the recession the ratio of the savings to the size of the mortgage will be 50:50 and in the following new boom it will go to 30:70.

The Bulgarian bank managers expect that in the next 6 months two new types of clients will enter the property market. The first type are people with good incomes and substantial savings. Currently, in Bulgarian banks there are 110 000 savings accounts with amounts exceeding 30 000 levs (15 000 Euros) with 76 000 levs (38 000 Euros) on average per account, according to the official statistic of the Bulgarian National Bank. Obviously, these people wait for the right moment to invest.

The second type are people who are not covered by the official statistics. They either keep their money at home or have incomes from the grey economy. Such kind of customers usually apply for mortgages that cover 20% to 30% of the price of the property.

At the moment the mortgage interests of Bulgarian banks are between 8% and 10%. Nobody expects any change until the end of the year, as bankers wait for the first encouraging signals from the U.S.A and Europe, in order to make a move.

Comment » | Bulgaria

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