Study of the Bulgarian Real Estate Market



Out of the entire Balkan region, Bulgaria enjoys the most stable political situation and has been a part of the European Economic Community since 2007. Bulgaria poses a unique opportunity for foreign investors as it boasts an annual growth of 4.5%, as well as low taxes, not to mention that the salary expenses are 30%, less than in the rest of the European Economic Community.

- According to the Washington Post, Bulgaria is ranked as the fourth most popular European tourist destination

- Bulgaria has enjoyed a 24% annual growth in tourism (6.5 million tourists counted in 2006 alone). Much of this has been due to the vast real estate development, as well as additional construction and public infrastructure.

- Bulgaria’s currency, the Lev, has a fixed exchange rate with the Euro.

- The Bulgarian economy provides a low living cost

- The price of property in various tourist complexes is 50% lower if compared with similar real estate in the rest of Europe.

- The beautiful scenery provided by the Balkan Peninsula, also known as the “forest of Europe” also offers ski and resort activities as well as a thousand years of culture and cuisine for its many visitors.

- Bulgaria’s placement in the southeast of Europe puts it in a strategic geographical location with Asia.

- The country’s potential will only increase, bringing further political, economic, social and religious stability.

THE BLACK SEA

Many tourists as well as property buyers are attracted to Bulgaria’s lovely coastline along the Black Sea (ranging 354 km). The newly-built resorts and properties in the old cities have both been one of the most popular areas of interest for foreign property buyers.

Bulgaria has long been known for its breathtaking beaches, calm clear waters, brisk air, beautiful sand as well as its mineral water springs and holiday vacation spots.

The climate is quite agreeable almost year-round, averaging 30 degrees Celsius in the summer (while water temperature is between 24 and 27 degrees Celsius). The summer hours are plentiful: 240 hours of daylight in May and September and more than 300 in June, July and August. Two international airports, Varna and Burgas, connect the Bulgarian Riviera with the rest of the world.

The northern Black Sea Coast

Along the country’s northern Black Sea coast, one will find the highest standards in resorts as well as beautiful scenery, natural wonders and foreign holiday attractions. The most famous of these resorts are Golden Sands, Albena, Roussalka, Riviera, Slanchev Den (or “Sunny Day”), and St. Constantine y Elena. A botanical garden as well as a museum is offered at Kaliakra horn.

The Southern Black Sea coast

For nature lovers, Bulgaria’s southern Black Sea coast is an outdoor museum. Its dune-covered beaches are typical of the Black Sea’s coast. An example of the country’s modern construction embraces the coastal line and is depicted in the villages of Elenite, Sunny Beach, Nessebur, Sozopol, Primorsko and Sinemorets.
The Strandzha mountain region provides a collection of different cultures and traditions; those of Ahtopol, Tsarevo, Kiten and Primorsko. The Strandzha culture is usually climaxed for the visitor in the fire-dances performed in a variety of the regions bars and restaurants. Many foreigners have already made the southern Black Sea coast their second home or holiday abroad.



The city of Burgas
On the southern tip of the Bulgarian coast is the city of Burgas. The city’s territory covers 48,200 hectares and is home to 350,000 inhabitants. The city’s name first appears over seven hundred years ago in 1306 in a work by the Byzantine poet Manuil Fill. The city derives its name from the Greek name “Pigros”, later from the Latin “burgos”, which means “the tower”. Local legends have held this name ever since the beginning of the first century, when a Roman port stood where today’s port is seen.

Burgas has long been Bulgaria’s most important tourist spot. A sophisticated road and highway network connects the majority of Burgas’ many vacation spots with the rest of the eastern coast.

Burgas’ port is the most important commercial port of the Black Sea. With the two ports as well as the international airport, one can commute to any European capital within hours.



Number of tourist (by country) visiting the Burgas region during the year 2006

GERMANY - 1,723,000
ENGLAND - 320,000
RUSSIA - 286,000
ISRAEL - 147,000
SWEDEN - 122,000
FINLAND - 121,000


REMI
REMI (Real Estate Market Index for Investment Activities) Bulgaria was established in September 2002 making Bulgaria the first Eastern European country to establish such an index.
REMI is accessible to the general public and can serve as a valuable tool for any foreign property investor, financial institution, real estate consultant, etc.



PRICES/ SQ.M.

Prices range from 850 euro/ sq.m. to 2,250 euro/ sq.m. The average price of the apartments currently for sale stands at 1,100 euro/ sq.m. Areas with less developed infrastructure present cheaper lower-quality properties.













Opportunity to develop a project in cities with more than 100,000 citizens like Sofia and Burgas.
  • Demand from international users. General flow to the city center suburbs with a priority for inner spaces within the shopping centers.

  • The percentage of unused areas in such places is 2%, due to the huge demand and lack of high standard spaces.

  • The income from commercial spaces in shopping centers is between 25-50 euro/m2 a month.

  • The market value of the investment: 9% (Poland: 7.2%, Hungary: 7.2%, Spain: 6%)













PROPERTY MARKET – 2006

- Researches show a rise in foreign investments. Most of the attraction is towards commercial properties such as offices, stores, and residential holiday properties. Property rates could continue to grow, reaching more than a 30% increase by the end of the following year. Growth has also been reported in real estate renting.

- The most popular property locations remain consistent- namely sea and ski resorts and the country’s capital. Additional resorts are beginning to come up on the south of Burgas, the Black Sea, in Borovets and Bansko, all attracting tourists and investors alike.

- Experts predict that the Bulgarian real estate market will continue to experience growth in the coming years and is currently in good shape.

- With housing costs way down and with the positive prospects for the near future, property investors eager to cash in are finding their second home and/or next investment opportunity in Bulgaria.

- Bulgaria offers a wide selection of real estate options comparable with those of France, Spain and Portugal. These range in size and class and eventually suit almost all preferences and budgets.

- Prices have increased by an average of 200% since 2003 and there is still no forecast of a crash in the real estate market. Analysts have suggested that due to the pricing starting at such a low mark, it will take time before they become in sync with other global destinations, particularly European. This reality offers potential buyers to draw a second income by renting out a second home.

- In a country with some of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders, property is now one of Bulgaria’s fastest-growing markets and presently serves a wonderful opportunity for new investors to enter this exciting market. In the last year only, property prices rose in value between 20 and 25 percent with certain properties even seeing gains of 100 percent and more.
- Bulgaria’s burgeoning economy and increasing political and social stability have together resulted in a boom of the country’s property prices. Bulgaria’s appeal to international tourists has been realized through the country’s many natural attractions: its mountainside, Black Sea coast, preserved historical sites, just to name a few. Bulgaria is presently considered to be the most rapidly growing tourism market in Europe. Having mentioned all of the above, we are confident in our vision of Bulgaria being one of the best investments to be made in the coming years.

- Bulgaria’s property market has repeatedly seen dramatic rises in the return-on-investment rate.

- The first four months 2006 only have seen an increase in return on investment from 116% to 137% (21% rise)

-Through intervention of the Bulgarian Association and the UE in 2007, an increase in the return of invested funds is quite certain.



PROPERTY MARKET FORECASTS

Observing the rapid growth rates of property prices, we can confidently predict an increase in the real estate sector in the next two years. A reasonable forecast is that both will continue to rise simultaneously until each reaches its respective market value. We have witnessed a low cost of real estate recently due to the long period of free market absence in Bulgaria and the strains of communism throughout that regime. 2007 will bring an expected 25% increase in property prices through the massive entrance of foreign investments into the country.

Further stable growth to Bulgaria’s property market is expected through the following criteria: 1) Lower interest rates through improved banking and mortgage credit politic will stimulate property purchases. 2) A stable political situation in Bulgaria and most notably its entrance into the EU will bring with them further growth in foreign investment as such ventures become safer.

Real estate in Sofia and the major Black Sea cities and resorts will progressively become more expensive. A high demand for property in ski resort areas is also becoming apparent as simultaneous development on the ground is taking place, meeting high standards of quality set forth by top ski vacation spots. It should be noted that the Bansko ski village is regarded as one of the fastest-growing resort in all of Europe.

The prices of Bulgaria’s older buildings are expected to remain steady even after the country’s acceptance into the EU community. While several villages already play host to foreigners, rural real estate locations may themselves increase as well. Much of this is due to the growth in cultural tourism which has bestowed the rural area of Veliko Tamovo, Arbanasi, Ribaritca, Bojenci, Elena, Drinovo, and many other localities.

BULGARIAN MOUNTAIN RESORTS

Bulgaria is home to four distinct mountain ranges: The Stara Planina, the Rhodope, the Rila and the Pirin. Over 75 km of ski runs cover altitudes up to 2,715 m above sea level in Bulgaria’s three internationally renowned ski resorts: Borovets ,Bansko and Pamporovo.

The summer months see masses of visitors coming to enjoy some of the finest hiking routes Europe has to offer. The same trails are also beginning to be discovered by bike and horse-riding enthusiasts.





ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR THE FOREIGN BUYERS

- In order to purchase and own real estate (not including apartments), one must register a company. In spite of Bulgaria’s entrance into the EU in 2007, this restriction has remained and will most likely continue until at least 2014. While it poses a rather simple bureaucratic obstacle, it must undoubtedly be taken into account when beginning the investment process in Bulgaria.

- In addition to the initial costs, an additional 6% to 10% will accrue through the costs of a real estate agent, lawyer, stamp duty, notary, translation services, bank and court fees.

- An annual property tax fee of about 0.15% of the real estate must be taken into account while income tax from rental income depends on the property owner’s taxation status.

- Bulgarian property developers have already realized the incentive of continuing to build as long as the price of land and building materials- not to mention workforce, remain very affordable. Affordable apartments as well as more exclusive villas and chalets are going up in rapid speed.