Wednesday, May 31, 2006 


Bulgaria remains real estate hotspot, despite EU criticism over reforms failure, market analysis shows.

Spain and France are losing some popularity, Dnevnik newspaper reported. The majority of property seekers are now turning to Southeastern Europe.

The international property market is slowing down, yet Southeastern Europe would maintain the high number of buyers, analysis shows. Infrastructure improvement projects affect this tendency positively.

Analysts said the popularity of Bulgarian real estate was expected to affect the Romanian market as well, Dnevnik said.

Buyers look for vacation property in Bulgaria and Romania because of the availability of low-cost carrier services, which permit cheap trips for a short vacation.

Yet, international tendencies show an overall property market slowdown. In the past 12 months real estate became 6.1 per cent cheaper on the average. The price growth in 2004 reached 10.9 per cent.

The price growth rate of Bulgarian property is also slowing down. For the first three months of 2006 real estate became 12.5 per cent more expensive. The increase for the same period last year was 36.5 per cent, Dnevnik reported.

Source: Sofia Echo


Bulgaria a hot property destination for Welsh

THE number of Welsh families buying property abroad is on course to double within the next seven years, with Bulgaria proving the hot destination.

Even first-time buyers priced out of the domestic market are turning to the former Soviet bloc nation to get a foothold on the property ladder, says Swansea-based Britannia Overseas Property.

Britannia - one of the UK's leading developers in Bulgaria - say impending EU membership and low property prices are helping money pour into the Black Sea resort nation.

Such is demand, Bulgaria last year recorded an average property price increase of 47.5 % with experts predicting values will more than double over the next 12 months. Britannia's Bulgarian ski and coastal development properties sell on average for £45,000.

Attracted by its long, hot summers and the Black Sea beaches' white sands the number of foreign tourists visiting Bulgaria has increased by almost 50%, with those from the EU growing by nearly 90%, over the past two years.

Andy Moore, former Wales rugby international and Britannia's joint managing director, told the Western Mail yesterday, "The majority of our local investors are buying properties on the coast or in mountain resorts for capital growth, rental income and a chance to visit for their own holidays.

"Many have previously owned property in Spain and the UK, but are moving their money to Bulgaria, as some see it as like Spain years ago, and Ireland before it joined the EU, offering the potential for similar returns."

Marc Davies and his wife Dawn bought a studio apartment in the Bulgarian ski resort of Bansko a month ago for £35,450 as an investment. The couple, from Mayals, Swansea, say they were put off buying an investment property here by inflated prices.

Salesman Mr Davies said, "If you buy property here now the rental income will not even cover the mortgage. There are very few properties here now where you can completely re-do the house and then make money on it."

Mr Davies, 32, who has never visited Bulgaria, is hoping to rent out the property during the ski season between November and February's end.

"They're building a golf course here now so there should be plenty of opportunities for a rental income," he said.

"But even if I can only rent it out during the skiing season it should still make money for me."

But Melfyn Williams, a past president of the National Association of Estate Agents, whose company Williams & Goodwin has several office across North West Wales, said buying abroad also has its downsides.

He said, "The track record has shown that investment in bricks and mortar in almost any country is a sound one and at the moment some countries such as those coming into the EU are experiencing good capital growth.

"The downside is that if something goes wrong you cannot go round the corner to sort it out.

"There have also been stories whereby couples have bought and then people have turned up with the right to take a bit of their garden to develop on it.

"In other cases people have come back and claimed the land the house was on."

And Mr Williams suggested the domestic property market in parts of Wales has outperformed Bulgaria over the past year.

"It was only a couple of weeks ago that one paper was reporting that prices have risen on Anglesey by 252%. So yes, the price rises in Bulgaria are good, but?"

Mr Moore said cheaper air travel, the strong pound and the recent boom in the housing market mean that owning a home overseas was now the equivalent of buying a holiday caravan 20 years ago.

"With the poor returns on the stocks and shares market and the uncertainty surrounding pension funds, more and more ordinary people invest their hard-earned cash into bricks and mortar by buying a property abroad," he said.

Buying abroad soars
A study presented to the Association of British Travel Agents revealed that home ownership abroad will double over the next five to seven years.

The World Trade Organisation forecasts that by 2010, Bulgaria will be visited annually by at least 20 million tourists, making it one of the world's most promising international tourist destinations.

The booming demand for homes in the sun has seen Britons' spending on second homes treble in two years. The UK is now spending £6bn per year on holiday homes abroad - compared to £2bn per year just two years ago.

In the next few months alone, an estimated 80,000 Britons are expected to buy a second home.

And while most will be used for holidays and short breaks, an increasing number will be bought as long-term investments and rented out to generate income.

Source: icWales
Related links: Sofia Echo: Bulgarian Lures more Welsh

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 

Bulgaria in the Europe Real Estate Yearbook 2006*

The main developers in Bulgaria continue to be local firms that have now gained significant experience in project development. But today, more and more international companies are also turning their gaze to the local commercial property market in search of a higher yield from their investments.

The German ECE Projektmanagement and the Hungarian TriGranit Development Corporation, which have already registered local companies, are among the latest preparing the launch of their projects.

Modern malls in the larger cities of the country, such as Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Bourgas, Stara Zagora and Rousse, as well as logistics centres and warehouse facilities, are serious niches for new investments.

In line with the Special Purpose Vehicles Act adopted in 2004, the first 10 REITs (real estate investment trusts) are now a fact.

In June 2005, Immoeast Immobilien Anlagen AG, a subsidiary of the Viennese stock-listed Immofinanz, which is responsible for Central and Eastern Europe, bought a 20-per cent share of the stock in noted Bulgarian real estate company TBI-BAC for 47 million euro. The company operates under the name Prime Property BG REIT.

Immoeast’s CEO, Dr Karl Petrikovics, explained this move, claiming that Bulgaria will become the next big “boom” market, a prediction that many market analysts share.

Despite the small volume of the managed funds, they are expected to contribute to greater transparency in the real estate market. These companies have diversified portfolios; some of them focus on the purchase of agricultural land, others are mainly orientated towards commercial property.

Regardless of the existing potential in many cities throughout the country, the capital Sofia still remains a priority city for the development of new schemes.

With its population of over 1.2 million people and the many foreign companies that constantly create new jobs and, therefore, need modern offices, the city can to a great extent be regarded as a country in itself.

It is a place where the standard of living, the purchasing power and the hunger for modern commercial buildings are much higher than in other Bulgarian cities.

* The Europe Real Estate Yearbook is printed in the Netherlands and is a product of the efforts of real estate researchers from many European countries. More information on the publishers can be found on

Source: The Sofia Echo
Related Links:
Bulgaria's review in Europe Real Estate Yearbook (pdf)
The Official Website of Europe Real Estate Yearbook

Thursday, May 25, 2006 

EU Criticism Fails to Affect Bulgaria's Property Market- Report

Bulgaria remains real estate hotspot, despite EU criticism over reforms failure, market analysis shows.

Spain and France are losing some popularity, Dnevnik newspaper reported. The majority of property seekers are now turning to Southeastern Europe.

The international property market is slowing down, yet Southeastern Europe would maintain the high number of buyers, analysis shows. Infrastructure improvement projects affect this tendency positively.

Analysts said the popularity of Bulgarian real estate was expected to affect the Romanian market as well, Dnevnik said.

Buyers look for vacation property in Bulgaria and Romania because of the availability of low-cost carrier services, which permit cheap trips for a short vacation.

Yet, international tendencies show an overall property market slowdown. In the past 12 months real estate became 6.1 per cent cheaper on the average. The price growth in 2004 reached 10.9 per cent.

The price growth rate of Bulgarian property is also slowing down. For the first three months of 2006 real estate became 12.5 per cent more expensive. The increase for the same period last year was 36.5 per cent, Dnevnik reported.

Source: Sofia Echo

Thursday, May 18, 2006 

Bulgaria's real estate prices on the rise again

The month of April brought news that the prices of real estate in Bulgaria continued their increase in the first quarter of 2006.

Housing prices in Bulgaria rose in Q1 by 4.7 per cent from the level recorded in the last quarter of the previous year, the National Statistics Institute (NSI) said on April 25.

The NSI data covers the prices of sealed apartment purchases reported by Bulgarian real estate brokers in the country’s 28 regional centres.

The average apartment price in the first quarter of 2006 was 806.1 leva (411 euro) a sqm, up from 769.7 leva (383 euro) in the previous quarter.

Apartment prices in the capital Sofia were the highest at 1313.7 leva a sq m, or 2.2 per cent up from the last quarter of 2005.

Varna, a major Black Sea port and holiday destination, was second with apartment prices of 1237.8 leva a square metre, up three per cent from the end of 2005. Bourgas, another Black Sea port and resort city, came third with average housing prices of 1198.3 leva a sq m, up 1.4 per cent.

The sharpest rise in housing prices in the first quarter, 51.5 per cent, was registered in the Danube town of Vidin. The town was recently struck by floods due to the rising level of the river, which would probably negate some of the positive change in the next months of this year.

Lovech in central Bulgaria saw a 19.5 per cent rise in average housing prices and the Danube city of Rousse posted a 15.3 per cent growth in apartment prices.

Statistical data of the real estate company Address, one of the largest in Bulgaria, showed a drop in the prices of vacation apartments at the southern Black Sea coast around the city of Bourgas. This comes as no surprise, for brokers have long been forecasting segmentation in the prices of holiday property along the entire Bulgarian Black Sea coast.

The Address data showed that in March 2006 there was a general drop in the prices of those properties which in July 2005 were in the lowest price group. There was a serious increase in the cost of luxury apartments in the region in early March 2006.

The resort of Primorsko was the only place where luxury prices dropped and the other ones were on the rise.

Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union will have an impact on the players in the real estate market in this country. Luchezar Bogdanov from the independent analytical company Industry Watch made this forecast on April 26.

He was addressing a discussion entitled Scenarios for Bulgaria’s EU membership and their impact on public finance, investment environment and economic growth.

Foreign investors in real estate in Bulgaria are currently divided into two groups – the first invest in property with purely speculative motives, while the second group consists of those who wish to keep their property or reside on it.

In contrast to other South East European countries, in Bulgaria the number of foreigners in the first group is significantly larger, which, according to Bogdanov, is the first signal for a forthcoming change. As soon as these investors find that speculation will no longer bring them serious profits, they will immediately switch to other markets, Bogdanov said.

He believes that those who plan to reside in Bulgaria should know when the country will join the EU. Also important for them will be to know where a precautionary clause will be imposed on the country in the justice and home affairs field.

A large portion of the domestic demand for property in Bulgaria is covered by money from Bulgarian emigrants. Bogdanov pointed out an example with the town of Sliven in southern Bulgaria, where, according to a survey, about 85 per cent of the newly built apartments are being bought by Bulgarians working and residing abroad.

If Bulgaria is integrated in the EU as fast as possible and with no precautionary clauses, easier migration to member states with higher incomes could be expected, which would enable the influx of more investment money in Bulgaria from emigrants, Bogdanov said. Such a development, in his view, will give another boost to the growth of the real estate market and the entire economy.

Source: Sofia Echo

Related links: National Statistical Institute Bulgaria


Growth forecasts at property exhibition in Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s construction sector, backed by the strong domestic and external demand for real estate, is expected to have a stable growth of 12-13 per cent a year by 2010.

The forecast was made by Deputy Regional Development and Public Works Minister Dimcho Mihalevski at the opening of the Real Estate Expo (Imoti Expo) exhibition in Sofia on April 27. The forum ended on April 29.

The same growth rates were predicted by the Bulgarian Industrial Association about a month ago. According to specialists, in 2003-2005 the increase in construction was 18-18.3 per cent.

The construction boom will concern not only residential, but also industrial real estate. The trend would give a thrust to development of the construction sector itself, Mihalevski said.

Real Estate Expo is the leading and largest international real estate trade show in Bulgaria. It was launched in 2004, following the dynamic processes in the real estate market and increased demand in real estate.

More than 120 exhibitors, including builders, investment funds, property brokers, financial and banking institutions and others, presented more than 400 development projects and other offers at the Inter Expo Centre in Sofia.

Housing remains the leading segment, but the share of second home holiday property and investment in hotels is also growing, participants in the exhibition said.

The segment of Bulgaria’s property market that will yield the highest return in 2006 is the multifunctional industrial zones, according to a survey conducted by the InvestBulgaria Agency released at the opening of the Real Estate Expo.

The development of industrial zones, which are forecast to return 12 per cent in 2006, will be a key priority for the InvestBulgaria Agency, its deputy head, Pencho Nenov, told the participants and the visitors of the forum.

The state will invest in the construction of the necessary infrastructure, said Nenov, pointing to the support that has been extended to the industrial zones in Kuklen, Rakovski and Rousse and to hi-tech park Opticoelectron in Panagyurishte (central Bulgaria).

Hotel developers are shifting towards the three- and four-star segment. The market share of three- and four-star hotels in Bulgaria rose from 50 per cent in 2002 to 67 per cent in 2005, it was announced at the exhibition.

Ample supply of office space is expected to bring down rental rates with 2006 yields likely to come in the nine to 11 per cent range.
Bulgaria’s property market swallowed over 250 million euro in foreign investment in 2005, which was 12 per cent of the year’s overall foreign investment influx, said Nenov.

The interest towards the development of the sector and the opportunities it presents was demonstrated at Real Estate Expo by banks and financial institutions, which occupied more than 10 per cent of the exhibition area, offering various forms of financing and products.

Three banks showed an innovative approach in extending mortgage credits, thus riding the public interest towards the exhibition.

The clients of Societe Generale Expressbank will be able to receive a euro-denominated housing loan with a 15-year repayment term and a promotional interest rate of 5.9 per cent, the bank announced during the exhibition.

No management and application processing fees on the loan have to be paid.

Loans will be extended for the purchase of residential property, home repairs or finishing works. The bank provides up to 80 per cent of the price of the property and offers possibilities for partial or full pre-term repayment. No limits on the maximum amount of the loan have been set. The bank provides quick response to the loan applicants.

Postbank said it would offer mortgage loans in leva and euro with a zero per cent interest rate for the first year. The promotional offer was be valid for candidates who applied during the Real Estate Expo.

The interest rate for the remaining period of the loan stands at 7.9 per cent. The bank also offered clients the convenience of choosing a scheme with a fixed interest rate for another two to three years.

And the commercial bank Allianz Bulgaria also offered mortgage credits with a 6.9 per cent interest rate to visitors of the Real Estate Expo.

The bank’s customers were allowed to repay their credits ahead of schedule without penalty charges, thus considerably reducing the price of their new homes.

In early April, Allianz Bulgaria bank cut its interest rates to between 6.9 and 7.95 per cent, depending on customers’ incomes, participating amounts and the credit terms and collateral.

Source: Sofia Echo


Why buy Property In Bulgaria?

Located in South Eastern Europe, Bulgaria is bordered by Greece and Turkey to the South, Romania to the North and Macedonia and Serbia to the West. Its Eastern Border is formed by the beautiful Black Sea Coast. A country of outstanding natural beauty the environment remains unspoilt and is incredibly varied. A relatively small country, a few hours drive will take you from the snow covered central Pirin mountain Ranges to the long sandy beaches of the Black Sea coast.

Forming the heart of several of ancient histories greatest civilizations Bulgaria's rich culture is reflected in a vast number of architectural treasures. Only Greece and Italy have a greater number of historical monuments. Throughout the country you will find ancient Greek sites, Roman amphitheatres and Byzantine churches. The country is home to 160 monasteries, 36 cultural centres and 40,000 listed archaeological monuments. Seven sites have achieved a coveted place on the UNESCO world heritage list.

What is the cost of living in Bulgaria?
Bulgaria is said to have one of the lowest costs of living in Europe. A wonderful meal for 2 including wine will rarely exceed around £7.00 GBP.

Quality of life
First time visitors to Bulgaria are surprised by its diversity and its stunning natural beauty. For years a real effort has been made to preserve the country's rich and unspoilt flora and fauna. As a result, Bulgaria is ecologically one of the purest countries in Europe, with exceptionally clear air and water resources. There are 7 national parks, more than 3000 protected natural sites and 17 bio-spherical reserves (the greatest recorded number in Europe). There are also 419 protected animal species and 63 protected types of plant.

Not only is the quality of life in Bulgaria good, but the cost of living is one of the lowest in Europe. A meal for two, made from locally grown and organically pure products and including a bottle of nice wine will rarely cost you more than six or so pounds. A quality beer will cost 40 pence!

The Black Sea Coast of Bulgaria
The 380 kilometres of beaches are amongst some of Europe's cleanest and safest. Many of them have been awarded prestigious "Blue Flag" status. The region enjoys average summer temperatures of between 25-30 degrees. The season extends from April to October. Coupled with the renowned low cost of living it is easy to see why the Black Sea coast provides and an ideal summer destination - and is surprisingly easy to access from an ever increasing number of European Airports.

Even though the Black Sea coast is an established tourist area, with resorts such as Sunny Beach attracting tourists since the late 1950's, it has recently become one of the fastest growing summer tourist destinations in Europe. So fast growing in fact that last year demands for tourist beds outstripped supply by 20%.

Bulgaria is said to be the fastest growing holiday destination for 2004 and at least 200,000 Britons were likely to visit the summer resorts this year - nearly double last year's total. Next year three new major UK tour operators will also be offering summer holidays in Bulgaria.

The Bulgarian winter resorts
Modern Borovets is one of the largest and increasingly popular winter resorts in the Balkan region. It is situated on scenic northern slopes of the Mousala Ridge in the east of the panoramic Rila Mountains. The resort lies huddled in thick pine forests some 1390 meters above sea level. The area has a long history - attracting people to ski here since as early as 1896 - taking advantage of the many pistes which rise to a staggering 2,600m!

The resort is a perfect place to enjoy excellent facilities off pist as well as on the snow. Many restaurants are clustered around the well appointed and superbly equipped major hotels, making dining a real pleasure with an endless array of contemporary and traditional eating places available. Borovets is the perfect place to relax and provides many other recreational opportunities throughout the year. The climate is considered to be healthy, enjoying beautifully clean air, mild winter temperatures and of course mountains of snow! Usually the slopes at Borovets are covered in snow from mid December through to April.

Borovets is also easy accessible with miles of first class road connects it with Samokov, the most sizeable town in the area. Sofia is just 45 minutes away. There is a regular bus transport into Samokov every 30 minutes and excellent links from there to the capital.

Bansko is considered by many to be Bulgaria's number one ski resort. It has the most modern ski facilities in the country and is a well-established destination for winter sport enthusiasts from all around the world. The town of Bansko is located 925 m. above sea level, and its ski slopes vary in altitude from 2000 m - 2600 m above sea level. It is some one hour from Sofia, but only 10 minutes from the bustling town of Razlog.

Bansko has developed into a favourite ski and snowboard destination, but also boasts unique architecture, has many historically significant sites nearby, as well as beautiful scenery and countryside for miles around.

During the recent years a multi-million Euro investment in a brand new state of the art skiing area has been made by Yulen, the company that is the licensed to provide the facilities within the Bansko skiing resort area. Furthermore, Bansko enjoys plentiful snow and therefore the season stretches from early December through to May! The longest season of any Bulgarian resort! During the last couple of years the resort has seen a massive investment in new prestigious hotels and recreational facilities .A brand new extension to the resort area also includes holiday apartments adjacent to the central hub of the Gondola and ski lift system.

Both Bansko and Borovets have bided for 2014 Winter Olympics.

Related websites: BBC country Profile for Bulgaria


Bulgaria's Planex Holding to build holiday compound in Obzor

Bulgarian property developer Planex Holding said it has started work on a vacation complex in Obzor, a Black Sea resort town located 60 km south of Varna.
The Galeria apartment complex, with undisclosed cost, should be ready by July 2007.
The gated development, with a built-up area of 15,153 sq m, will consist of 196 apartments with area ranging from 40 to 100 sq m. The units, divided in 2 buildings, will be sold at prices of 730 to 930 euro/sq m.
Management and maintenance services for the finished apartment units will be provided by PLH Invest, part of the Planex Holding.
Galeria is the 5th residential compound developed by Planex in the past 3 years. The company has so far build vacation complexes in Ravda, Slanchev Bryag, Sozopol and SS Konstantin & Elena.

Source: Dnevnik
Related links: Planex Holding Bulgarian Property Development Projects


Property buyers in Bulgaria warned of false price in deeds

The experience of hundreds of overseas buyers looking to purchase property in Bulgaria shows it is common to put a lower price in the deeds to save money, experts say and warn this is risky.

"Putting a lower price in the deeds during the last stage of the conveyancing process in Bulgaria is generally done because the vendor wishes to avoid taxes and fees which are due on final signing and which depend upon the property price which is declared in the deeds," says Chris Goodall, Managing Director of Quest Bulgaria magazine.

"The higher the value of the property, the higher the taxes and charges. But by declaring a lower price in the deeds than that which is actually being paid is an evasion of Bulgarian law and creates an ‘invalid‘fake' deal and can lead to serious consequences.

From a civil law point of view this kind of "fake" deal would be considered null and void. If the client is found guilty ofbeen party to such a deal he could be charged with a fine of up to 1,000 pounds and even imprisonment of up to three years.

The practice proves to be common with Bulgarian constructors as well who are trying to avoid VAT which has to be paid on new build or off plan sales. They offer the potential of putting in a low and false price in order that they do not pay all or any of the VAT due.

Experts advise potential buyers to get an independent lawyer to act in their interests.

Source: Sofia News Agency
Related links: UK Bulgarian Embassy Guide to Buying Property in Bulgaria


Higher Foreign Investment in Bulgaria's Real Estate Sector

More than 10 per cent of the foreign investment in Bulgaria for 2005 is in the real estate sector, Pencho Nenov, vice executive director of InvestBulgaria agency said.

Nenov was present at the opening of the Real Estate Expo yesterday, 24 Chassa newspaper reported.

According to the agency,37 of the apartments purchased last year in Bulgaria were bought by foreigners. Investors come mainly from Britain and the Scandinavian countries and are interested in purchasing property within mountain and seaside resorts.

Reasons for this interest in the country include the good climate and the prices three to four times lower than those in other European states.

Real estate market tendencies also include increase in the number of newly constructed buildings. Only for 2005, 1900 new buildings were erected, which is 400 more than the number for the previous year. Most are concentrated near the seaside and for the purpose of spa tourism.

National Statistical Institute survey shows investors constructing new hotels aim at higher quality of service. As a result, five per cent of the newly built facilities rank five stars, and another 15 per cent have four stars. The most expensive hotels are located in Nessebar.

Prices of office buildings are falling because of the intense construction of business facilities. Investors show growing interest in plots in industrial areas.

Source: Sofia Echo
Related links: National Statistical Institute Bulgaria

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 

Bulgarian police cars

Very interesting article from the BBC on how the Police in Sofia, Bulgaria use luxury sports cars like porches seized from criminals as official cars .

In rural Bulgaria it's pretty common to see a farmer making his way to his fields in a cart pulled by a single old nag. The police in the capital, Sofia, can rely on a little more horsepower.

It's the only place I've ever seen the police drive a Porsche convertible. Complete with blue flashing light and repainted in white with smart blue stripes. This is not profligacy with public money but something odder. Like the BMW and Merc driven by the Bulgarian police, it's been stolen somewhere in Europe, shipped to Bulgaria by criminal gangs, and then confiscated.

So far they've been luckier than one judge, who was proudly going to work in a top-of-the-range four-wheel-drive until its German owner spotted it and demanded it back. So if this is your long-lost car do contact the Bulgarian police. I'm sure they'll be delighted to hear from you.

Friday, May 05, 2006 

New Property Investment Trends in Bulgaria

Real estate market tendencies show a considerable increase in the sales of hotels under construction.

According to a 24 Chassa report the largest part of such offers is concentrated in Bansko, Pamporovo and the seaside resorts. Until present investors showed interest in the purchase of completed hotels, especially by the seaside, or separate flats in apartment complexes.

Market research shows tendencies are changing and the demand for buildings under construction is growing. The main asset of such facilities is that they are multi-functional.

This allows investors to change usage during the construction work. A building planned as an apartment complex may be transformed into a first-class hotel, 24 Chassa reported.

Agents said this is neither a plus, nor a minus, but simply a new opportunity for investors.

Other market tendencies include projects executed by more than one investor. Owners of a plot transfer building rights to a partner company in exchange for claims over several floors of the building.

According to data, an unfinished building in Bansko sells for up to 3.1 million euro, depending on the construction stage. Some of the common features of such construction sites include proximity to ski lifts or entertainment spots and availability of pool and coffee bar areas.

Source: Sofia Echo


Bulgarian property developer looks for LSE float

Bulgarian-based Sigma Capital Investments , a Black Sea property developer, was quoted as saying Wednesday by news agency Reuters it was seeking to issue global depository receipts (GDRs) on the London Stock Exchange.
The move would represent the first listing on the main market of the London Stock Exchange by a company with 'essentially all its business assets in Bulgaria,' Sigma was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Co-founder George Veltchev said Sigma eventually aimed to float more than 50%, including new and existing capital, although not necessary in the first tranche.
Sigma said it aimed to complete the float by the middle of the year. Citigroup and ING are acting as financial advisers on the deal.
Veltchev said the company was owned by one industry investor and 12 private investors. He said the company would provide more information closer to the issue.
The company said it had assets valued by real estate firm Colliers International of 192.2 mln euro and about 35 % of branded hotels in Bulgaria.
Sigma Capital Investments owns 4 hotels on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast with a combined room capacity of 1,993.
The Grand Hermitage in sea resort Zlatni Pyasatsi is run by hotel operator Kempinski and is the chain's biggest hotel in the Balkans.
Sigma Capital Investments also owns Ifa Beach Hotel in Nesebar, Iberostar in Slanchev Bryag and Iberostar Luna Bay near Obzor.
The company is building 2 new hotels which will add 875 rooms to the group capacity by end-2006.

Source: Reuters
Related websites:
Sigma's Architects:


Bulgaria mortgage loan rate down to 5.9%

The visitors to the 4th edition of the Imoti Expo-Spring '06 exhibition that will kick off on Thursday in Sofia should expected to be besieged by advertisements for mortgage loan products.
Postbank will offer a home purchase credit with zero interest for the first year during the property exhibition. The interest rate for the remainder of the repayment period will be 7.9%. Preapproved clients are contacted no later than 2 days after submitting their loan application.
Sister banks HVB Bank Biochim and Hebros Bank have cut by 50% the commission for the review and release of mortgage credits for the duration of Imoti Expo and the ensuing month.
Commercial Bank Allianz Bulgaria will advertise at the property exhibition a home purchase credit with a 6.9% interest.
In related news, SG Expressbank announced it is offering a 15-year home purchase credit denominated in euro with an interest rate of 5.9%. The offer expires in late July. Eligibility is limited to customers whose monthly pay is credited to an SG Expressbank account.

Source: Dnevnik



The Bulgarian real estate market expects a property supply boom next year.

Many real estate owners in Bulgaria wait for January 1 2007 to offer their property for sale, hoping the country's EU accession will increase prices, Darik Radio reported. Managers of leading real estate agencies said these expectations are unfounded as prices on the Bulgarian market are already high enough. There is hardly any room for further increases, dealers said.

The increase is unjustified, since salaries have not been raised considerably and the demand for property in Bulgaria practically remains the same. The prices of luxury properties, offices and agricultural plots are the only ones to rise. Bulgarians hoping to profit from apartment sales will be disappointed, Darik Radio reported.

Most real estate owners, however, remain under the illusion that right after EU accession the demand for all property in Bulgaria will increase, leading to higher inflation on the real estate market. Consequently, experts predict a considerable rise in the number of apartments offered for sale. The increased supply may actually lead to a fall in prices. Property owners will eventually be forced to lower prices if they want to sell their property.

Source: Sofia Echo


First Western Style Shopping Mall in Sofia Bulgaria

SOFIA Bulgaria's first Western-style shopping mall, City Center Sofia, will open in the capital on May 12 with a six-screen cineplex and shops like Calvin Klein and Mango.

A second mall also is expected to open a few weeks later, the first wave of the 155,000 square meters, or almost 1.7 million square feet, of shopping center development in the pipeline for Bulgaria over the next two years, according to research by Cushman & Wakefield, the real estate agency.

While its neighbors cannot boast much shopping center space - for example, Romania has 15.2 square meters per 1,000 residents while the EU average is 171.1 square meters - Bulgaria has been the only European country to have none at all.

But the country's plans to join the European Union in January have energized its economy. Salaries here average only 335 lev, or $210, a month, but they have been increasing by 10 percent a year. The economy grew 5.5 percent in 2005, compared with 1.8 percent in the EU, and consumer bank loans have been increasing around 50 percent a year since 2001.

Equest Balkan Properties of Sofia,listed on the London Stock Exchange and with €200 million, or $245 million, in equity, bought the almost- completed shopping mall in March for €94 million.

The mall totals 44,000 square meters, with about 22,000 square meters of leasable retail area divided into 100 units, including three anchor stores - a six-screen cineplex, the Bulgarian Piccadilly supermarket chain and Technomarket, an electronics hypermarket. Slightly more than 75 percent of the space is rented.

"It will attract middle class, upper middle class and affluent Bulgarians, who until now have missed such a shopping and lifestyle center with all the services easily accessible," said Deyan Kavrakov, Equest investment manager in Bulgaria.

The Mall of Sofia, which plans to open sometime at the end of May, was built for a little more than €50 million by Cinema City International of Israel, Aviv Construction and Public Works of Israel and Quinlan Private, an international real estate and investment advisory group based in Ireland. General Electric Commercial Finance Real Estate also bought into the project last September. Colliers, the exclusive leasing agent, said the mall reached 100 percent occupancy in January.

The enormous mall structure adds a splash of color and sparkle to its gray urban surroundings. Its 75,000 square meters includes 22,000 square meters of leasable retail space, divided into 130 shops; a 12-screen multiplex and an IMAX 3-D movie theater; 10,000 square meters of office space; and 22,000 square meters of parking.

"This is a necessary step. If you meet a major retailer who wants to come to Bulgaria, the first thing they ask is 'Is there a shopping mall? Where is my shop going to be located?' Until recently there was none," said Ivan Velkov, general manager of Colliers Bulgaria.

Until now, most international retailers have been located on main streets or one of the 23 "big box" outlets that first appeared in Sofia in 1999. Rents in storefronts range from €50 to €120 per square meter per month, compared with €30 to €60 in the Mall of Sofia, according to Colliers.

"The so-called strategic investors in the retail branch don't like to divert attention from their sales in order to deal with investment issues like whether to invest in a shop, build, expand or move," said Evgeni Kanev, director of financial advisory services in Bulgaria for KPMG, the worldwide accounting firm. He said experience had shown that large sales volumes cannot be made in small shops, but until now there had been no alternative.

"This is why commercial property developers believe this a such a big opportunity for a city with a population of 1.5 million," Kanev said.

The rush for retail is part of Bulgaria's new economic development. Romania, its northern neighbor, has a similar standard of living but a population about three times Bulgaria's. It got its first shopping mall in Bucharest in 1999.

While Bulgaria has taken longer than some of its neighbors to move beyond communist-era retailing, Yvonne Court, head of retail research and consultancy for Cushman & Wakefield in London, said it should be no exception to the rule that dramatic retail growth follows EU membership and the subsequent economic development.

"It will happen," she said. "It's just a question of when."

Source: IHT Properties

Thursday, May 04, 2006 


Experts predict a construction boom in Sofia's centre.

In two years at most new luxurious complexes would replace the old buildings in the capital, real estate companies said.

Yavlena real estate company representative Strahil Ivanov said that the process of replacing old constructions with new ones would start by the end of this year.

According to Adress Group predictions, the boom would start two years from now, when construction in the capital's suburbs would be completed.

Investors prefer plots surrounded by buildings less than four floors high, 24 Chassa reported. The new complexes usually have underground parking lots to deal with the parking problem in the capital.

Purchasing an old building may cause troubles like additional destruction expenses and construction waste disposal, property agencies say. These costs are a setback to most investors, 24 Chassa reported.

One option for the purchase of such plots is the buying of land together with the building on it, experts say. Another opportunity is compensating the original proprietors through ownership rights over a part of the new complex.

Source: Sofia Echo

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 

Bulgaria is new holiday hot spot

BULGARIA is the latest property hot spot for Britons seeking a holiday home abroad, according to new figures.
One in 10 inquiries about foreign property purchases from people in the UK is about Bulgaria, while the number of properties bought by Britons in the former Eastern bloc country has risen by 38% since January.
Bulgaria, the African island of Cape Verde and Canada are the new top holiday destinations.

Source: EveningTimes Online

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