Monday, February 26, 2007
The investment program will be put to a vote at an April 8 general meeting of shareholders.
The first purchase planned by the REIT is of 2 unzoned properties in the village of Slatina, near Sofia. The company will pay 4 mln levs for the properties with a combined area of 0.818 ha.
The shopping list of the fund also includes a recreational center and a property with zoning approval in the coastal town of Balchik, with a combined price tag of 3.5 mln levs; and 1 mln levs in land plots with zoning approval located in village of Lyuliakovo, in the Dobrich region, with an area of 36,000 sq m.
In January this year, Super Borovets Property Fund sold a 56,100 sq m lot near Samokov for some 9.9 mln levs. The plot's acquisition cost of less than 1 mln levs allowed the fund to turn in a hefty profit of 8.989 mln levs for 2006.
The first annual report on British overseas property investment from the AIPP has placed Spain and France in the top two spots, taking 50.5 per cent of the market share in 2006 (31.6 per cent and 18.9 per cent respectively). However, the figures show that Bulgaria has slipped into third place, attracting 7.7 per cent of British overseas property purchases.
Chris Howard, managing director of overseas property specialist, 4:Property, commented, ‘It is very credible that the Bulgarian market is growing rapidly because it has had a lot of UK media exposure and has branded itself in a way that Romania and other such countries either haven’t tried to or haven’t managed. It will continue to have an active property market going forward.
‘The more traditional markets, such as France and Spain, are radically different. France tends to attract more well heeled investors looking for rural locations, while Spain usually appeals to baby-boomers looking for an apartment on the coast. However, demand will continue in these areas because they are close to the UK and are well-known to buyers.
Such projects will be carried out in Sofia, as well as in other bigger cities, Capital weekly reported.
Most such projects were already launched in the coastal city of Varna. Analysts said that new developments can be expected soon in Plovdiv. The good location and proximity to Sofa draws increasing number of investors to Plovdiv.
Varna turned out to be the second most attractive city after Sofia when it comes to office property projects.
The first such project to be started in the coastal city was Business Park Varna. Upon its completion, the business park will feature nine buildings and an area of 120 000 sq m.
Several investors expressed interest in carrying out office property projects in Varna’s centre. At the moment, office rents in Varna vary between six and 14 euro per sq m.
Despite its potential, Plovdiv still lags behind Sofia and Varna. The proximity to Sofia is a good factor but also turns investor interest directly to the capital, analysts said.
Major companies prefer to construct on their own office buildings in Plovdiv and the number of constructions offering office property for rent is limited, Capital reported.
Office rents in Plovdiv vary between five and 10 euro per sq m. In the most preferred central locations rents can reach up to 12 euro per sq m, the report said.
The demand for up-to-date warehouse facilities in Bulgaria is higher than the demand for residential property.
Supply on the residential property market is too high, Colliers said. The demand for residential buildings in Sofia is now higher than the supply but the tendency will change in the near future.
Another tendency on the property market according to the research of Colliers is the increasing demand for office space. Demand and supply increased by 27 per cent in 2006 and will continue growing.
The demand for office space in the outskirts of the cities also increased, Colliers said. The highest prices are seen in city centres, where the monthly rent ranges from 12 to 22 euro per sq m.
Larger office venues also became more popular in Bulgaria, in contrast with tendencies in neighbouring countries like Serbia and Macedonia.
Monday, February 12, 2007
On February 7, the Guardian reported that Bulgaria, together with Poland, Estonia and Denmark, was among the European Union countries with a steady increase in property prices in 2006. The Guardian quoted a survey done by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which analysed price growth in 26 European countries.
On February 5, the magazine A Place in the Sun reported that Bulgaria was the third most-popular country for investments in real estate in Europe. Bulgaria was outranked only by Spain and France. Well-established locations started to lose their market share at the expense of new destinations like Bulgaria, Dubai and Cape Verde. In such untrodden locations, prices for real estate were much lower, especially given the rising prices and interest rates in Great Britain, the magazine said. Turkey, Cyprus, Greece and Portugal were also among the top 10. However, as a result of the oversupply of real estate in some parts of Bulgaria, prices in this country would probably remain relatively low, the magazine said.
In view of this, two reports in the news about a 235 million euro British investment in Bulgaria did not come as a surprise. At the beginning of the month, Bulgarian Land Development (BLD), a London-listed Bulgarian property developer, said it would invest in five residential projects in Bulgaria, worth a total of 235 million euro. The developments are in the Black Sea resorts Albena and Sozopol, the winter resorts Pamporovo and Bansko, and Sofia, BLD managing director Hristo Iliev said.
The Harmony Hills apartment complex near Albena will include 202 apartments. Buyers have reserved 75 of the flats and signed preliminary contracts for the purchase of 53 flats, evidence of the interest shown by British clients. Construction on the Harmony Hills complex is expected to kick off in February and to be completed in 15 months. According to Iliev, all apartments in the Paradise View complex near Sozopol have been reserved. BLD developments in Sozopol, Pamporovo and Bansko feature a total of 149 apartments, as BDL bought the three projects in October 2006 for 6.8 mln euro ($8.8 mln euro).
The company’s fifth project, BLD Sofia Tower, is a luxury apartment building where flats are selling at 3000 euro a sq m.
An increasing number of conservative investors was interested in the Bulgarian property market, Vulchev said as quoted by Focus news agency.
An investor carrying out a project costing at least 30 million euro in less then five years is considered conservative, Vulchev said.
Such investors were interested in Bulgarian real estate because the market was undeveloped and limited as compared to the European property market, he said.
Mostly German investors are interested in Bulgaria, but the number of foreign investors will increase.
Vulchev said that the Serbian property market was less developed than Bulgarian one. Still, prices were higher because a number of Serbians worked abroad but invested their money in Serbia.
RICS is the largest organisation for professionals in property, land, construction and related environmental issues worldwide. Its latest review, created with the support of Savills, looks at the performance of 18 European housing markets in the preceding calendar year, analysing trends across the continent in areas such as inflation, building activity, mortgage markets and turnover.
1) Europe’s housing markets did not cool in 2006 after interest rate rises and the majority were still experiencing double-digit house price inflation;
2) Transactions and mortgage borrowing were strongly up through most of Europe;
3) The European Central Bank’s (ECB) interest rate hikes have not been fully passed on in higher mortgage rates and seem to be having limited impact on housing markets;
4) The rate of house inflation declined somewhat in France and Spain but rose in Ireland and the UK;
5) Prices in Germany remain static though the house price slump seems to be over as the economy picks up;
6) Small countries are having the biggest house price rises, including Greece and Ireland and countries in Scandinavia;
7) The smaller traded markets of central and eastern Europe, the Baltic States, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania are still experiencing major house price growth.
Several countries have experienced slow price growth in recent years, notably the Czech Republic, though price rises are generally stronger in up-market sectors. Hungary remains tranquil in real terms, partly reflecting economic and political difficulties, the RICS added. Croatia recorded no price change at all (at least in the first half of the year) although there are hot spots in the holiday areas.
Poland seems to be a new hot-spot, with Warsaw prices rising by a third in 2006 and in Krakow by even more.
Now that both countries have joined the EU, and many have already made a commitment to invest in property in Bulgaria and Romania, it’s time to review their decisions and look at the future projections for new investors examining the prospects of the property markets in both countries.
Leading up to EU entry many investors sought to target property in Romania and Bulgaria because they had already witnessed the positive returns that other investors had derived in the property markets of previous entrants such as Hungary and Poland for example. As a result, Bulgaria in particular developed an active property market almost overnight. In fact it was completely due to EU accession that Romania and Bulgaria developed a property market at all, because if it was left to local demand to fuel the real estate sector neither country would have taken off.
This strong international demand for property stock in Bulgaria and Romania spiked the media’s interest and once the media became interested and began promoting the perceived financial benefits of investing in either nation, property investor interest surged even more. Meeting this demand for investment property stock was keen property developer activity, and because few restrictions were in place at that time (we’re talking 3 – 4 years ago), few regulations and restrictions were in place to prevent over development.
As a result certain areas such as Sunny Beach in Bulgaria are now over developed and many say spoiled, and property prices in these locations are now stagnant. Luckily the rest of Bulgaria and Romania has been protected from this over development with the benefit of hindsight, and so looking to the medium to longer term there is certainly room for property price expansion still.
Now that both Bulgaria and Romania are in the EU each will benefit from a period of investment which will help to improve some of the creaking infrastructure in both countries. The money will go towards such projects as road development and airport expansion meaning it will be easier to access and explore both countries which will boost tourism appeal. Additionally money is likely to be spent on renovating historic sites of interest as well as promoting the delights of both countries.
All this investment will hopefully boost the travel and tourism economy in Bulgaria and Romania and mean that investors have a growing market to let their real estate investments out to suggesting that not only is long term capital appreciation likely in both countries, but short to medium term rental yield is also possible making a return on investment quickly achievable.
The new figure shows a drastic rise in the past 12 months as a year ago just over half (55 per cent) of buyers thought house prices would climb.
However buyers are still looking to haggle on properties to ensure they get a good deal.
More than a fifth (21 per cent) of buyers would make a low offer to start with, only raising it if necessary. That compares with only 12 per cent of keen buyers who would immediately offer over the asking price to get their perfect home.
A quarter of buyers are said to be looking for a property they can renovate and add value to.
Commenting on the growing trend, Gary Lumby, Yorkshire bank's head of retail, said: "Buyers who are now looking for properties they can do up are using this uncertainty to their advantage by trying their luck with a lower initial offer - and only raising it if necessary. Should these offers below the asking price be accepted by sellers then we may see prices levelling off."
The survey also highlighted that over three-quarters of those questioned do not intend on moving home, suggesting that the housing market is beginning to slow.
The biggest growth rates in terms of expat population increase are expected in the more desirable areas in and around the major resort centres of Varna and Burgas. With further population development expected in other selected ‘premium quality’ locations on the Black Sea coast.
On the whole Bulgaria is a peaceful, law abiding and trouble free country and Bulgarians are friendly, warm and welcoming people. Expatriates attracted to Bulgaria are rewarded with great beaches and attractions as diverse as wine tasting, aqua parks, ancient monuments, nature parks, music and flower festivals. And the cost of living is incredibly low.
Sunny Beach Property in Bulgaria has caused so much activity amongst all involved in the overseas property industry that you can easily get dizzy from the amount of information and property available in the region. One thing is for sure Bulgaria as an emerging market that is set to change the former member of the Soviet Union forever.
Jonathan Burridge, of Quantum Mortgages, the mortgage broker, says: “This is still a relatively new concept and, as a pioneer in new territory, you can expect to meet bagmen and cowboys. However, there is gold to be had for the wise and the lucky.” But experts advise that buying overseas carries a host of unpredictable risks and costs. Ray Boulger, of John Charcol, another mortage broker, says: “I am not surprised that overseas consultants are targeting first-time buyers — the low prices look appealing. But for most first-time buyers, buying abroad is wrong for so many reasons that it is difficult to know where to start. The biggest mistake is assuming that the overseas market will perform in the same way as property in the UK.” There are predictions of a threefold increase over the next ten years on property in Prague and reports of high demand in Bulgaria. But Mr Burridge says: “This is speculative. The marketing literature looks attractive, but has yet to be proven right.” An important consideration is the property rental market in the country in which you are buying. A strong rental market can mean weaker capital appreciation. Residents in France, Germany, Italy and Spain traditionally rent their homes. A flurry of foreign investment pushed up prices for a while, but the market is not driven by a homeowning culture over the long term, as is the case in the UK. Even if the purchase price looks cheap, the initial costs of buying abroad are likely to be higher than in the UK, especially legal expenses. Mr Boulger says: “Legalities vary from country to country and prospective buyers should never sign anything they do not understand. This may mean hiring more than one solicitor, who will have to put in more work, which will mean higher fees.” Stamp duty is also likely to be higher abroad — in some countries it is as much as 10 per cent, compared with 1 per cent for the average first-time purchase in the UK. Despite ultra-low prices, particularly on new-build apartments, buyers should be aware that prices when they sell may not be as high as they had hoped. For example, the Spanish new-build market is active, but selling on apartments is becoming more difficult, meaning that sellers are having to accept lower prices. This could be a problem for those hoping to use the profits for a deposit on a home in the UK. Mr Boulger says: “If the purchase does not go well and you fail to make a profit, this may scupper plans to buy in the UK.” If you keep the overseas property while buying in the UK, it may be harder to find a willing lender because other mortgage commitments will be taken into account when deciding what risk you pose and how much you can afford. Anyone convinced that buying abroad is for them should do some research. Mark Bodega, of HIFX, the currency exchange company that spe-cialises in overseas property purchases, says: “Nothing beats pounding the pavements. Look at the rental income generated by similar properties in similar areas. Target places that you can rent out year-round, such as European cities, and note how easy it is to get there.”
returns would not match the past: "I know from my rents, which have hardly
moved in three years, that the best is over for the modest investor - so I
Trawling the net and comparing prices and yields, she found Budapest
attractive, at least on paper. The reality was equally promising. "After two
visits, I bought an office owned by a travel agent. He paid two years rent
in advance, so I had that comfort. It was, as they say, a win-win deal."
The Hungarian owner got a lump of money and the Irish investor got a
property with a yield of about 7 per cent. Current Irish returns are about
3-4 per cent on similar properties. She did it all on the net, without an
agent - "found the property, corresponded with the seller and came out to
The tale did not surprise Odran Young, owner of a medium-sized estate agency
in Dublin. He came out to live permanently in Budapest four years ago, lured
by the promise of bargains in a country weaning itself away - at a fast
pace - from a failed Communist system. Now he controls the only Irish agency
with a full-time complement of staff in the Hungarian capital.
We were in a restaurant in Liszt Ferenc, an enclave of boulevards and
restaurants. There is gaiety and business and music - it's an aria away from
the fabled Opera House whose baroque splendour has been restored with
dollops of eurodosh, a mere three years after Hungary emerged into the
eurofold of favoured nations.
Already, he can see the signs of creeping prosperity, a re-run of the
experience of the Irish republic. "When I came first, most of the cars were
old bangers, Ladas on their last legs.
Now most cars are hardly more than two years old. The cafes are full of
well-dressed young people. Then, there was only one restaurant on Ferenc
A lot has changed since then, for both Budapest and Young. They have been
agents of each other's change. From his penthouse overlooking the musical
square, he counts 16 restaurants and cafe bars.
He is selling some of those refurbished baroque buildings and uses the
Hungarian capital to trawl for developments in Eastern Europe, notably in
Hungary has been good to him, turning him from a medium-sized player in
Irish property to a major wheeler-and-dealer of European property. Currently
he has several new developments on the go in Budapest, including a block of
"new build" apartments in the university district.
Of the 144 apartments, 80 have been sold off-plans. Not surprising given
that prices range from 60,000 for one of about 37sq m (400sq ft). A Dublin
equivalent, in quality and location, would cost upwards of 325,000. His
buyers are mainly Irish, with British and South Africans as runners-up in
the investment stakes.
Expanding his Budapest office this week to cater for the demand, he is
bullish about Hungary's economic prospects. Well, he would be, wouldn't
But external factors support his projections, with rents and wages rising at
about 20 per cent in the past 18 months, while land values do not yet
reflect that surge.
"Property prices are cheaper here than in most of the neighbouring
countries - I can sell Budapest residential from 1,350 to 1,800 a sq m (32
to 167 per sq ft), whereas Sofia (Bulgaria) is 2,000 a sq m (185 per sq ft),
Ukraine is about 4,000 a sq m (371 per sq ft, payable in dollars) and
Still smarting under the rigour of communist control, major Hungarian banks
accept existing properties as collateral for further loans, "rolling-over"
the values, which was the financial base of the historic Irish property
boom. "It took some lobbying, but finally the forint dropped," Young
recalls. Some banks will now fund 70 per cent of a prospective purchase.
His forays into commercial property include shopping centres, entire office
blocks, former government departments - bought by syndicates of investors
whom he describes as " typically two or three Irish blokes, aged mid-30s to
mid-40s, punting with some spare cash". (His definition of "spare cash", is
elastic, given one buy of a shopping mall for 8 million).
THINKING big also drives the plans of Marty Carr, whose golf services
company is a significant partner in Zala Springs, about two hours drive from
On a greenfield site in the wine region of Balaton, the 18-hole course is
trumpeted as of "championship quality" with 7,200 yards of drives off the
tees, and around 468 acres of playing.
Why Hungary for golf? "Because it was there!" is Carr's succinct answer,
before supplying some figures. "Hungary has only seven golf courses, about
one course for every 1.5 million of population; the comparable figure for
Ireland is a course for every 12,000 people.
Scion of the golfing family - "I have the name but not the game" - Marty's
company, Carr Golf Services, manages six courses at home and partners
investors to develop major courses overseas.
"Golf, wine and baths" is the working motto for a spa market that is
currently fashionable. Zala Springs exploits the very Hungarian capacity for
enjoying bathing in thermal waters (sometimes outdoor in winter!) as well as
the region's vineyards.
Using golf as lure, investing partners have funded a new 397-unit resort.
Family apartments and townhouses range from about 60-215sq m (645-2,217
fringes of the course.
All are being sold off plans, with Carr claiming a 10 per cent uplift in
price for buyers of the first phase. Housing completion is scheduled for end
of 2007, with the course playable in spring of 2008.
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
The main part of the money to the amount of BGN 12 million will be invested into sites in Bansko and 7.8 million are allocated among the town of Dobrinishte and the six villages, which are also a subject to investment interest – Kremen, Obidim, Osenovo, Gostun, Filipovo and Mesta.Also in other investment new for the Bansko are the construction of a drinking water reservoir with a capacity of 17000 cubic meters above Motikata. In 2006 around ten apartment complexes remained closed due to lack of water supply. After many efforts made for providing enough resources, the construction of the main sewerage collectors 1 and 7 of the new south resort zones started, as these zones are situated to the north up to the place of the planned new Waste Water Treatment Plant. The installations are to the amount of BGN 13 million, as the resources are provided by the Ministry of Environment and Waters.
BUY PROPERTIES IN BANSKO
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors analysed price growth in 26 European countries. Among these European countries Poland is the one that registered steady price increase of over 33 per cent over 2006.
Poland’s “ancient royal capital” of Krakow saw the larges price increase , where the price hike reached 58 per cent.
A high number of West European investors have been moving eastward and seeking property there, The Guardian reported.
Countries in the Scandinavian region also saw an increase in the property prices. The average hike in Denmark reached 22 per cent in 2006.
Polish agents said that the market is expected to remain active in the coming years.
Friday, February 2, 2007
This is the company's first investment in Bulgaria's winter ski resorts.
The hotel should be ready in mid 2008 and is yet not affiliated with any international hotel brand .
At the moment, company is busy renovating the Sofia Sheraton hotel and a new 1,000-seat conference hall must be ready by mid-2007.
The Sofia Sheraton slumped to a loss of 2.9 mln levs towards the end of 2006 after posting a profit of 3.3 mln levs a year ago, shows the interim financial report for 2006.
Revenues fell 12% to 16 mln levs while expenses jumped 35% to 16.9 mln levs in 2006.(Dnevnik)
The effect was first seen in Alnwick, which following its starring role as the setting for Harry Potter’s adventures in The Philosopher's Stone, sent the price of homes in the small Northumberland town rising and boosted the local economy.
Alnwick house prices rose 51 per cent in 2001, the year of the film’s release, with a record number of properties changing hands – a total of 226.
However, housing market experts are predicting a similar effect from another Potter – Beatrix – particularly in Ambleside, Cumbria, where the famous author and illustrator lived.
The film of Beatrix Potter's life - Miss Potter - is tipped to give the area an immediate boost of around £5 million, economists predict, with tourists from all over the world visiting the area.
"I would expect to see demand for homes in Ambleside escalate over the next year, as investors in particular look to capitalise on increased tourism in the area," commented David Bexon , managing director of Email4Property.
"In fact, I would expect to see the number of people looking to buy second homes at least treble, with buyers drawn in by the picturesque countryside and the excellent investment opportunities.
"However, the smart investor will have already secured a property here, beating the crowds and placing themselves in an excellent position to profit from the imminent influx of tourists, before demand reaches a peak and inflated prices push properties out of their reach."
The new 18-hole Golf course, exclusively designed by Ian Woosnam and widely acclaimed as the best golf course in Bulgaria is just 5km away.
The development boasts massive 400 sq.m. highest quality leisure facilities. These include an indoor swimming pool, gym, spa , sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi and massage. In the building there will be also ski storage facilities, a beautiful appointed bar and an international restaurant.
Prime location, beautiful mountain views, traditional Bansko architecture, excellent leisure facilities, high standard of specification and superb rental prospects- All Seasons Resort is a development with unique variety of luxury apartments in the newest developing area of Bansko.
All Seasons Resort Bansko offers five floors of studios and 1-bed apartments for sale.
Apartments are offered for sale completed to the following standard:
-Double galzed PVC
-Fully equipped bathrooms
-Electric boiler for hot water
-Solid front door
-Cable TV, Internet and phone outlets
- 4 star Apartment Hotel Complex- with full reception area and 24 hour concierge service
- Extensive indoor and outdoor leisure and sports facilities
- Spa Centre incorporating Sauna, Massage/ Treatment Area, Steam Bath, Aroma therapy and Ice room.
- Indoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi area with glass doors that can be opened in summer
- Large sun terrace- indoors and outdoors
- Fully equipped Gym
- Ski and Golf storage room at ground level with separate entrance
- Landscaped Gardens
- Bistro restaurant with fireplace
- Lobby with comfortable lounge area and open fireplace
- Internet cafe
- Wireless internet and cable TV
- Fire alarm system and CCTV Security System
- Car parking spaces outside
- Shuttle bus to the ski lifts and to the Golf course.
Estimated date of completion July 2008
For mor einformation please visit Bansko Properties
It would be understandable if Bulgaria--ancient Roman annex, Ottoman Empire conquest, Soviet Union satellite--wasn't all that welcoming to foreigners. But there I was in Sofia, on my way to the public drinking fountains where locals fill up old Coke bottles with hot mineral water, when a lady pointed out that the bottle of wine I was carrying had broken through its plastic bag. I tucked the bottle back in as best I could and said thank you--good deed done, as far as I was concerned--but the woman kept cheerily talking in Bulgarian as she emptied one of her own shopping bags and insisted I take it to replace my ripped one.
Hospitality in hand, Bulgaria is the next little thing on the international travel scene. The Balkan nation joined the European Union on Jan. 1, with blue flags waving in the streets on New Year's Eve, yet only in recent years have tourists ventured much beyond Black Sea beach towns and into the Ohio-size expanse of rose farms, medieval monasteries and Roman ruins. Visitors, especially Western Europeans, are flocking to ski resorts in the Rila and Pirin mountains and have even sparked a property boom in Bansko, where investors are scooping up cheap vacation homes. Meanwhile, low-cost labor, economic incentives and proximity to the rest of Europe are luring record levels of foreign investment from companies like French car-parts manufacturer Montupet, Chinese TV maker SVA and U.S. energy firm AES--even though Bulgaria still has a ways to go in cleaning up corruption.
Then there is Sofia, which has the air of being on the cusp of discovery. (Impress your hipper friends by talking about how you visited after tiring of Prague.) The taxi driver from the airport was surprised to learn that I was American, as were vendors in the fruit market, although everyone under 30, it seemed, spoke English. Road signs in the capital are in Cyrillic, and Old World and communist-era charms abound--men in chapeaux, women with bright red dye jobs--but there are also plenty of skinny young things running around in tight jeans and tall boots, heading to hot nightclubs like Chervilo and Briliantin that don't get going before midnight.
The tourism industry here isn't exactly supersophisticated--the Sheraton's approach to wake-up calls, for example, is laissez-faire--but more amenities are popping up, including high-end hotels like Arena di Serdica, built around the ruins of a Roman amphitheater, and Grand Hotel Sofia, which overlooks the Sofia City Garden, the former Royal Palace (now an ethnographical museum) and the National Theater. The nicest rooms top $300 a night, after converting from the euros that most hotel rates are listed in, alongside the price in Bulgarian leva.
Sofia easily matches the rest of Europe in cobblestone streets and cathedrals. Aleksander Nevski Memorial Church, a massive neo-Byzantine tribute to the Russian soldiers who died fighting for Bulgaria's independence from the Turks in the late 19th century, is well trafficked, as are the souvenir stalls outside selling communist and Nazi paraphernalia. Fewer sightseers meander into the Sveta Nedelya Church, where Sofians gather for incense-imbued Bulgarian Orthodox services in a mural-covered sanctuary. It was there that a church employee approached my camera-toting travel companion, asking to be photographed. We wound up sharing warm bread in a side office, even though we didn't share a language.
The center of Sofia brims with Old Country attractions--the changing of the presidential guard, streets made from yellow bricks gifted by Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I--but the city of 1.2 million is compact enough for visitors to venture to locales off the beaten track, like the communist monument turned skate park in Borisova Gradina and the Ladies' Market, where average-income Sofians do their shopping. The marketplace of storefronts and open-air kiosks sells everything from clementines to wallpaper to negligees to banitsa, a flaky pastry stuffed with the feta-like "white cheese" used in many Bulgarian dishes. One kiosk sells mulled wine from barrels for 1.2 leva, about 80¢, a liter--a price indicative of how very far the dollar goes. The top end is a bargain too. At Pri Yafata, an upscale restaurant serving traditional Bulgarian cuisine (which means Turkish and Greek influences plus a proclivity for using all parts of the animal--hot pig's head soup, anyone?), a folk-style three-course dinner for two with wine can be had for $35.
That, though, is starting to change. Bulgaria doesn't move to the euro until 2010, but the country is already seeing the effects of integration with the European economy. The Sofia Echo, an English-language weekly, reports that in the last few months of 2006, the price of bread went up more than 10% and is expected to increase another 20% to 50% this year. The evolving landscape is perhaps nowhere better observed than at the gleaming new glass-wrapped Mall of Sofia, where locals sip $2.60 caramel macchiatos, browse stores such as Lacoste and Hugo Boss and take in movies at Bulgaria's first IMAX theater.
Across town, you can still fill up a used soda bottle with hot mineral water next to the old Turkish baths, but to the extent that you believe progress and popularization displace authenticity, you should head over sooner rather than later.
By Barbara Kiviat
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Unsurprisingly, given the British historic love affair with the Mediterranean Costas, Spain came top of the A Place In The Sun magazine poll and was closely followed by France.
Other established markets of Cyprus, Portugal, Italy and the USA also dominated the top ten, which was punctured by just three emerging hotspots: Bulgaria, Turkey and the Cape Verde islands in the mid-Atlantic.
Previous studies have shown that the regions where UK residents tend to invest in property tend to be broadly similar to our favourite holiday destinations and this survey appears to back up this correlation.
But that is not to say investors are indifferent to achieving high returns on their investments.
France has consistently ranked highly in British investors' estimations not only because of its romantic boulevards, idyllic villages and rolling countryside peppered with vineyards and flailing cornfields, but because it typically offers a strong rate of capital growth.
Trisha Mason, founder and managing director of VEF French Property, predicts capital appreciation of between eight and ten per cent, considerably higher than the 1980s and 1990s' norm of five per cent.
This estimate is broadly in line with the Knight Frank Global house price index, which calculated house prices in France rose 8.9 per cent in the third three months of last year.
However, jet-to-let is also a recognised way of making income from properties abroad. Ms Mason said that they French buy-to-let market "remains exceedingly buoyant" at present
She added: "Anyone buying to let needs to be looking at small apartments in the centre of cities. Nice remains a strong favourite for investors."
Although many may still dream of the picturesque countryside villa in rural France, some of the biggest bargains to be had are in urban areas as there is a high domestic demand for rental properties.
Accommodation in Beausoleil in the Provence-Cote d'Azur region, overlooking the expensive yachts, castle, sea and occasional Formula One racing circuit in Monaco can be snapped up for a mere €100,000 (£66,325). Considering that Nationwide states the average home in the UK now tops £170,000, this represents a safe, low-cost investment.
Properties in the town have high rental capacity due to the masses of tourists that flock to Monaco for luxury holidays throughout the year.
The building contract has gone to local construction company Planex Holding. It should finish the development in August 2008.
Mount View will feature 128 apartments ranging from 90 to 250 sq m in size. The complex is designed with a built-up area of 15,000 sq m. The list of amenities includes gym, sauna, otdoor swimming poll and a 150-car underground parking facility.
London Sofia property, which owns 65% of Mount View Sofia, said 34 partments have been sold off-plan and another 12 have been reserved.
According to the developer, apartment buyers are ensured a 20% return on their investment over the next 5 years.
In partnership with Salamanca Capital Investments, a London-based real estate management company based, London Sofia Property is also developing the Bulgaria Mall on Bulgaria boulevard in Sofia. The 100 mln euro development should be ready by the end of 2009. The 80,000 sq m complex will place on the market 25,000 sq m of retail space and 20,000 sq m of office premises.
London Sofia Property has also bought land plots for 3 projects in ski resort Bansko: one hotel development and 2 apartment complexes.
The area's average air temperature in the summer is about 28°C, with the average water temperature at 25°C. There are more than 240 hours of sunshine in May and September and more than 300 hours in July and August.
The Balkan Mountains cross the country reaching to the edge of the Black Sea, dividing the coastline into a southern and northern part. Parts of Bulgaria's northern Black Sea Coast feature rocky headlands where the sea abuts cliffs up to 70 metres in height. The southern coast is known for its wide sandy beaches.
The largest city on Bulgarian Black Sea Coast is Varna (also the third largest city in Bulgaria), located on the northern part of the coast. Another big city is Bourgas, located on the southern coast. The two cities' international airports, Varna Airport and Burgas Airport, are the main hubs servicing the region. In addition, the A1 and A2 motorways, currently in construction, would make the trip from the capital Sofia to the coast substantially easier and faster, while the Cherno More motorway is planned to connect Varna and Burgas.
A Place in the Sun magazine polled its readers and visitors to recent A Place in the Sun Live Exhibitions to find out what the 20 most popular places to buy abroad are. The results have been published in the February 2007 edition of the magazine.
The top ten was dominated by the more established markets with old favourites Spain and France taking 1st and 2nd places respectively. Other established markets in the top ten included Cyprus (5th), Greece (6th), Portugal (7th), Italy (8th) and the USA (10th).
The most popular emerging market in the chart was Bulgaria which came 3rd. Other very popular emerging markets were Turkey (4th) and Cape Verde (9th).
The top three most popular overseas property markets.
A Place in the Sun Magazine wrote in their February 2007 issue, It's no great surprise that Spain leads our Top 20 list - around half a million Brits are thought to either live in Spain or own a property on one of its sunny, sandy sexy costas. And A Place in the Sun Magazine still believes there are still Spanish hotspots to be found. They cite several places in the southern Andalucia region such as Huelva, Almeria and Jean where prices rose 16 per cent in 2005 according to Savills; in Cordoba and Granada prices increased 18 per cent in the same year. In Castilla La Mancha, Valencia and Cuidad Real leapt up 19 per cent, while in northeastern Galicia, Pontevedra grew by 20 per cent in the same year. Savills have, however, warned that "the era of general rapid house-price inflation may be coming to an end.
Of France, A Place in the Sun Magazine wrote, Earlier British invasions clung mainly to the northern coast, but now that low-cost airlines operate services to most major French cities, buyers are being more adventurous. Penny Zoldan of Latitudes told the magazine, People are buying all over France. Brittany, Normandy and Pas de Calais are still as popular as ever, with the Dordogne, Charente, the Cote d'Azur and Provence also attracting plenty of attention. The magazine points out that whereas historically Brits tended to be attracted to older, renovation properties, now, in part prompted by the introduction of the leaseback scheme in the 1980s, new-builds are also popular.
On Bulgaria, A Place in the Sun Magazine warned, The huge supply of property is conspiring to keep prices in Bulgaria low at the moment, and the spurts of equity gain that British buyers have come to expect at home or on the Spanish costas have yet to materialise here.
The 36 most popular places to buy property abroad according to A Place in the Sun readers and exhibition-goers.1. Spain
9. Cape Verde
19. South Africa
23. New Zealand
Article from The Move Channel