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Bulgaria Property and Lifestyle News

Data reported by Address, the largest real estate agency in Bulgaria, for the two months of May and June, shows that only 20% of all property transactions were for off plan properties. Off plan appears to have completely fallen out of favour, with owners having to wait months and reduce their asking prices in order to effect a sale. The agency reports that they believe property prices have now fallen to realistic levels, dropping some 23% across the country in the first half of the year, and are not likely to collapse, although the downwards trend of off plan sales is forecast to deepen.

The report goes on to mention that nearly 40% of vendors were changing their prices downward every fortnight during the first six months of this year. Average prices in the capital, Sofia, fell by just over 22% in the first half of the year compared with the same period last year. Varna property prices fell just under 22% and Bourgas 19%. Colliers, real estate consultancy firm, say that they believe the Bulgarian residential market will now enter a period of stabilisation.

Meanwhile, the Standart has a focus on the plight of Britons who are selling up in their droves around Veliko Turnovo and returning to the UK. According to the news source, Bulgarians who sold their houses in the area to the Brits can now buy them back again at a lower price than originally, plus the properties have been renovated! It seems that the Brits who bought in the area are now returning home to survive the crisis, no matter what price they have to accept for their Bulgarian property. The article claims that they were attracted to Bulgaria by cheap booze and food but have now run out of money, with the "easy life and party nights" being over. Time to snap up a real bargain for those who are seeking a cheap overseas property!

The mortgage situation in Bulgaria has remained much the same for the first half of this year. In general, the banks are lending from 40 to 70% of the property valuation. Credit Centre reported recently that the banks are still asking large deposits to minimise their risks. The company believes that the strict lending criteria will remain in the country at least until the end of this year and that interest rates will remain unchanged.

Eurostat published its results for a survey of consumer goods and services across Europe. Bulgaria prices were shown as 51% of the average across the EU. The most expensive prices were registered in Denmark, followed by Ireland and Finland.

Interestingly, prices of clothing and consumer electronics came out lowest in the UK but this was mainly down to the low rate of the British pound. Prices of food were 67% of the EU average in Bulgaria yet were a staggering 147% of that average in Denmark.

Rumour has it that the forthcoming EC report on Bulgaria will again focus on the lack of political will to fight corruption with no mafia bosses having been put on trial, particularly those with access to EU funds. In a separate report issued this week on general fraud, Bulgaria is shown to have 140 potential fraud cases concerning the recovery of 9 million euros from pre-accession funds. The total sum said to be at question from irregularities and fraud is a massive 28 million euros.

Criticism in the EC report due on 22 July will probably also be made regarding lack of reform of the judiciary. It appears likely that the EC will also recommend that Bulgaria remains under special monitoring and observation. Whatever the report actually does say, there is no doubt the Bulgarian parliamentarians and ministers will pronounce it either 'good' or, alternatively, yet again proclaim that Bulgaria is being picked on. A further report on Bulgaria's ability to absorb European Union funds will be coming out in October.