Monday, July 31, 2006 

Bulgaria Fails to Overshadow France as Buy-to-Let Destination

France is proving an attractive option for buy-to-let investors despite the emergence of strong investment markets in popular Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria and Croatia, according to a new report.

New figures from property investment specialists Assetz have shown that there has been an astounding 100 per cent increase in French sales since January 2006.

Particularly interesting is the high regard with which British buy-to-let property investors treat France, the experts comment.

"As our closest European neighbour, France has always proved a popular investment proposition due to its continuing leaseback scheme. The scheme offers investment opportunities in holiday rental properties without any of the associated market hassles while also allowing investors the possibility for corporate lets in chic French cities such as Paris and Strasbourg. And the quality offered by French properties is an advantage reflected right across the scale in the region's growth as a buy-to-let hotspot."

"Hard-nosed investors might want the higher returns of Bulgaria but they would not retire there. Quality destinations that offer an established infrastructure, culture and lifestyle, including excellent food and wine, continue to hold firm against their new competitors," says Stuart Law, Assetz managing director, as quoted by the company's on-line edition.

"Capital growth is slower in France compared to Bulgaria or Croatia, but the rental market is undeniably strong and reliable, underpinned by a tourist industry which sees 60 million people visit the country every year."

The property experts comment that France's popularity as a holiday home and retirement destination plus the considerable buy-to-let potential in the meantime has seen made it turn into a market favourite.

Source: Sofia News Agency

Saturday, July 22, 2006 

Property in Bulgaria becomes more expensive

SOFIA (bnn)- The average property price in Bulgaria has risen with 1.6% in the second quarter, compared to the first three months of 2006, National Statistical Institute announced.

The reached level calculates at leva BGN 819.3/sq. m. (EUR 417.4/sq.m.; US$ 529.7/sq.m.). Six out of 27 regional towns mark significant growth in prices –2 -15%. Sofia estate has been the most expensive in the last three months – BGN 1322.7/sq.m.
(EUR 674 /sq.m.; US$ 855.2/sq.m.), followed by the seaside towns of Varna and Burgas.
The average price of estate in Bulgaria has increased with 36.6% in 2005 and is equal to BGN 738/sq.m. (EUR 376/sq.m.; US$ 477/sq.m.).

Source: Bulgarian News Network (BNN)


Bulgaria's Capital, Seaside Top Property Prices

Bulgaria's real estate prices are highest in capital Sofia and in the main coastal cities, Varna and Bourgas.

Data by the National Statistical Instituite has shown that the average property prices in the country have increased in the second quarter of the year as compared to January-March - BGN 819,3 and BGN 806,1 per square meter, respectivey.

Over April-June, the average selling price in Sofia was BGN 1322,7.

The costs in Varna in Burgas were BGN 1263,8 and BGN 1 180, 5 respectively.

Source: Sofia News Agency

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 

Golf Course Tempts Property Investors Interested in Bulgaria's Bansko

The number of tourists winter resort Bansko would be able to accommodate during the next winter season would increase by 20 000, representatives of Address Bulgaria property agency said.

In three years Bansko would offer opportunities for calm rest, as most construction work in the areas near and within the resort would be completed by then, property agents said.

Construction in Bansko’s Gramadeto area, located right next to the ski lift, is expected to end in the beginning of 2007. Most new constructions there would start functioning the coming winter season, reported.

To avoid over-construction municipal representatives decided to ban further construction in the resort.

Investors would be attracted through new opportunities the resort would offer in the future. Most investors have already turned their attention to the construction of the new golf course Pirin Golf Holidays Club, to be located between Bansko and Razlog.

In relation to the new project, most investors are expected to launch projects like Spa centres, five-star hotels and apartment complexes.

According to prognoses, property investors in Bansko would turn to the overall development of the region, including projects in nearby Razlog, Dobrinishte and Banya.

Source: Sofia Echo

Related links: Investment Property Guide - Bulgaria


Bulgaria registers new property investment vehicles

Bulgaria's Central Depository has registered the shares of 2 new real estate investment trusts.
The launch of Alfa Property 1 and Status Estates brings the overall number of special purpose vehicles operating here to 30.
Alfa Property 1, co-founded by Alfa Finance Holding (95%) and Bulbrokers, will invest in business properties in Sofia and the greater Sofia area, said executive director Ivan Nenkov.
Status Estates, co-founded by Advance Invest (30%) and Status Invest (20%), is already developing a project for a multi-use building with commercial, office and residential sections. The company is considering several suitable sites in Sofia.
The fund will also invest in agricultural land plots that will be rezoned and sold for profit.

Source: Dnevnik a.m
Related links: Bulgarian Real Estate Investment Trusts Guide

Monday, July 10, 2006 

Another Large-Scale Property Investment In Bulgaria's Kavarna

Bulgaria's Linexa Property plans a 20 million euro investment in a new residential complex to be constructed in Bulgaria's coastal town of Kavarna.

On July 6 Kavarna mayor Tsonko Tsonev revealed the plans for the new complex to be constructed near a golf course, SeeNews reported.

Construction work had already began and the 420-apartment complex would be completed within two years, Tsonev said.

The complex is the latest in a series of large-scale UK, Spanish and French investment over the past years. Some of the projects include the construction of a golf course, hotels and holiday villages.

The increased interest in Kavarna property resulted in a record income from land deal taxes. Kavarna expected over two million leva for 2006, SeeNews said. The total value of the investment deals reached 100 million leva for 2006.

SeeNews said that the Bulgarian real estate market registered rapid growth over the past few years and was expected to grow even further after the country's EU entry in 2007.

Source: Sofia Echo


EU Deputies Halt Demolition of Sofia's Roma Quarter

European pressure has bought about a reprieve for a ruinous Roma ghetto in Sofia, which the local authorities planned to demolish.

After four European parliamentarians from the European Free Alliance sent an angry letter to the Bulgarian government, the city mayor postponed the demolition of about 60 illegal homes in Batalova Vodenitsa, a slum-like quarter on the outskirts of the city that is home to around 200 Roma.

The city authorities had planned to go ahead with the demolition on June 30, after getting the go-ahead from the country's Supreme Administrative Court.

While the city authorities, the government and human rights organisations argue over the best solution to the problem, experts say the situation has highlighted obvious discrepancies between the local and state policy on this sensitive issue.

The conflict over the Roma in Sofia erupted at a delicate moment - days before Bulgaria was due to take over the presidency of an initiative called "The Decade of Roma Inclusion".

The campaign aims to unite eight countries from Central and Eastern Europe behind a drive to improve housing, education, employment and healthcare for this marginalised and disenfranchised minority.

The row about the fate of Batalova Vodenitsa is not the first over the city's Roma. Last year, the Sofia authorities destroyed another Roma quarter on the grounds that the more than 20 homes in it, home to about 150 Roma, were also illegal.

The housing problem for the Roma in Sofia is typical of the problems they face all over the country.

The communist regime ended the Roma's traditional peripatetic lifestyle, obliging them to settle down, as the price of obtaining personal documents. But once they did, most ended up in segregated and isolated ghettos.

Since then the situation has remained more or less the same.
Moreover, the country's economic and political transition has widened the gap. The Roma minority is among those social groups that have suffered most from recent economic instability, unemployment and poverty. Very few have found stable and secure lifestyles.

Migrating within the country in search of better job opportunities, they have increasingly tended to settle on municipal property without permission, building unlicensed, mostly temporary, constructions.

The latest attempt to remove one of these illegally built settlements on municipal property was launched by Sofia's regional mayor, Eva Seizova.

When she first came up with the idea to remove the Batalova Vodenitsa slums last Septmeber, 23 residents of the ghetto went to court to challenge the plan. But the Sofia City Court and then the Supreme Administrative Court ruled in her favour.

It was only the EU parliamentarians' stance that made Sofia's city mayor, Boyko Borisov, pause for thought. Backing down in the face of the protest, he ordered a halt to the operation until the housing problem of those affected is solved.

Many experts blame a discrepancy between the policies of the local and state authorities for the muddle.

Margarita Ilieva, from the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the Sofia-based human-rights organisation that took the case to the European court for human rights in Strasbourg, said the city policy was contradicting official state policy on Roma integration.

She said that the government's own programme of 1999 for the integration of Roma agreed as far as possible to legalise the illegal dwellings was preferable to demolitions and evictions. After that infrastructure can be built.

However, Georgi Krastev, of the Roma integration department, of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Demographic Issues, believes differently. He said many of the current Roma dwellings needed to be destroyed, mainly as they do not meet health and safety standards.

The Helsinki Committee also criticises the city for what it describes as an arbitrary policy on land seizures.

Ilieva says the current law on municipality property, on which the eviction order was based, constitutes an attack on the basic rights of all citizens to a home.

"The provision in the law that allows local authorities to remove without compensation any citizen who lives illegally on municipality property, even when this is their only home, contradicts the European Convention on Human Rights," she said.

It violates article 8 of the convention, which stipulate s as human right the right of home and peaceful family life.

Eva Seizova disagrees. Describing the letter of the four European parliamentarians as "interference", she quoted the country's constitution, which stipulates that no one individual's rights should violate another individual's rights.

"This principle has now been violated," she said. "I'm receiving a great amount of complaints from the thousands of other citizens who live near the ghetto and who have been tortured by those in the ghetto."

The regional mayor added bitterly that while attempts to remove a Roma slum had provoked uproar, no one paid similar attention when ordinary Bulgarians were evicted from their homes.

Some analysts say it is clear that national initiatives on Roma have often been launched without any guidance as to how they should be applied at local level.

"The solution of this problem will take a lot of time and will have high financial and social price," said Boyan Zahariev, of the Open Society Institute in Sofia.

In May, Bulgaria's council of ministers moved to allocate around ten million leva (around 5 million euro) to re-house 80,000 Roma families within the next ten years.

Until that project is completed, the local authorities may well face similar arguments to the one over Batalova Vodenitsa.

Source: Sofia News Agency


Ski resort Bansko bans construction, developers eyeing nearby Razlog, Dobrinishte

The local government in Bansko, a ski resort town in the Pirin mountain, has banned construction to prevent its booming tourism industry from the searing effect that overdevelopment has had on the nation's Black Sea resorts.
The ban will enter into force after the elapse of a month-long court appeal window.
Only a fourth of the 29,000 beds in the town's accommodation facilities are registered and actively marketed to tourists. As many as 20,000 of bed total are in facilities still under construction.
The civic infrastructure will be overstretched by this scale of construction, said mayor Alexander Kravarov.
The town's electricity grid is primed to fail this winter when consumption is expected to reach a new peak. The municipal council is tackling the problem by providing the local electricity distribution company with land plots for the construction of new transformers and substations.
The municipality said it has invested 15 mln levs in new infrastructure in zoned areas in 2006.
The municipality has issued 350 construction permits since 2005 and these are the last projects that will be completed after the ban is enforced.
The foiled property developers are already sizing up the potential of neighbouring Razlog and Dobrinishte.
Some 40 km of new ski runs will be built in the Dobrinishte area under one of the larger projects in development. Austrian and Irish funds as well as Bulgaria's Galchev Engineering Group are interested in the project. The investor will be picked by the municipal council.
According to municipal data, land properties in Bansko fetch between 30 and 200 euro/sq m while the going sale rate for finished apartments is 1,200-1,500 euro/sq m. Land plots in Dobrinishte sell at around 60 euro/sq m.

Source: Dnevnik

Monday, July 03, 2006 

Bulgaria Examines Coastal Construction Problems

epresentatives of the Regional Development Ministry would discuss on Friday Bulgaria’s coastal construction problems.

The regional governors of Varna and Bourgas would also take part in the talks, reported.

On the same day, June 30, representatives of the Nessebar municipality would decide whether to permit construction in Irakli, one of the last wild coastal regions in Bulgaria.

Ecological organisations already said they would organise protests in Nessebar. They previously carried out a campaign collecting signatures in favour of ban on construction in the last remaining wild beach areas. reported in the beginning of the week that various property websites offered apartments for sale in the protected areas, despite the protests of ecological organisations.

The two institutions responsible for construction control are the Regional Development and Water and Environment ministries. They are expected to discuss the problem once the Nessebar municipality has taken a decision, reported.

Source: Sofia Echo


Newly Opened Malls Affect Trade Area Market In Bulgaria

Demand for store areas in the newly-opened malls in Sofia was increasing and many brands preferred them to the stores on major boulevards.

Maya Ivanova from Yavlena Real Estate said that brands were transferring their old stores to the malls or opening new ones in the trade centres.

Until recently stores on Vitosha Boulevard, Graf Ignatiev and Pirotska Streets were rarely freed, 24 Chassa newspaper reported. Now the demand had decreased, Ivanova said.

The main advantage of the new malls was the steady customer flow and lower rents. A square metre of trade area on any of the boulevards costs 60 to 80 euro a month, compared to less than 60 euro a month in the malls.

Address real estate agency said that the new malls would have no effect on the trade area market and that the decrease in interest towards the boulevard stores was only temporary.

In the meantime, the number of malls in Bulgaria increases. Varna, the largest town on the Black Sea coast, plans the opening of a mall in 2008. Investors like Equest Balkan Properties, the company behind Mall of Sofia, and General Electrics had already shown interest in sponsoring the 35 million euro project, 24 Chassa reported.

San Stefano Property Development plans the construction of another trade centre in Sofia. The centre will have over 40 stores, a restaurant, an underground parking lot and a rooftop garden. It was to be part of a luxurious living complex covering over 55 000 sq m, 24 Chassa said.

Source: Sofia Echo
Related links: Equest Balkan Properties

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