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Wednesday, January 18, 2006 

Bulgaria tempts UK property investors: Assetz

With the increased availability of cheap flights and the current popularity of relocation television programmes, property investors from the UK are becoming increasingly adventurous as they look for the perfect property.

In an assessment of the current European property market, the Independent has suggested that Bulgaria has now become a genuine alternative to France and Spain as an estimated 80,000 Britons make the decision to purchase a second home in the coming months.

Peter Esders, a partner at law firm John Howell & Co, states that because some people are solely interested in a holiday home while others will want either capital growth or income, it is impossible to isolate an individual area as the "best" choice for property investment.

Nonetheless, he indicated that the rapid rise to prominence of a number of Eastern European markets had led to a shift in the usual emphasis.

"Spain and France are still popular - but probably not as much as they used to be because of these new countries," said Mr Esders.

"More and more people are thinking about buying in places such as Croatia and Bulgaria," he added.

The Independent has rated a number of countries in terms of access, property market and general pros and cons. Bulgaria is rated good for access because it is well served by airlines, but the assessment does not take into account the fact that the situation is likely to improve again with Sofia Airport expecting to open a new terminal in 2007.

Mr Esders has advised people to be choosy when looking to invest in property in Bulgaria because of variable growth rates. Borovets, Pamporovo and Bansko have all been highlighted in recent months as lucrative possibilities for property investors.

"I think both Sofia and the skiing areas are going to be good investments for a while. However, lots of people have been buying on the coast so the level of value increases there are unlikely to be sustainable," he suggested.

While Bulgaria will clearly dominate the investment projects of many Britons, France and Spain will also remain extremely popular. The French National Association of Estate Agents (FNAIM) recently revealed that property prices increased by 10.3 per cent across the nation in 2005, while figures from Sociedad de Tasacion showed that Spain's property boom is continuing with a 10.1 per cent increase in the country's provincial capitals during the same period.

As one of the chief advantages of buying a property in France, the Independent suggests that if you get bored of it "there are always people interested in buying in France so selling on your property shouldn't be too much of a problem, as long as it's in an attractive area".

Paris is an obvious example, with house prices continuing to escalate in the capital city. Assetz managing director Stuart Law has picked out the region of Languedoc as another sensible option, with house prices considerably lower than they are in the surrounding area and access becoming more realistic because of cheap flight routes.

Of Spain, the Independent remarks that houses in Valencia have doubled in value since the beginning of 2003. It also refers to the advice from Neil Lewis from propertysecrets.net that the best policy is to look for houses that are in need of restoration.

In a stark message to prospective investors, the Independent stresses that irrespective of the location, it is absolutely crucial to seek professional advice.

"Don't be tempted to skimp on this area. Seeking help is essential to avoid making costly mistakes."

Source: Assetz

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