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Bulgaria roundup: property, living and finance

A recent report from the financial experts, Creditcenter, demonstrated increased activity on mortgage lending. The credit market increased by almost 9% last month, over the previous month of January. New lending products were introduced by several banks who also eased interest rates.

Banks also recommenced offering letters for 'mortgage pre-approval', allowing buyers to better negotiate when buying property.

Average mortgages were just over 38,500 euros, nearly a 4,000 euro increase on the average mortgage in January. During February four banks improved their terms of lending either loan to value percentage or interest rates: MKB Unionbank? Postbank, Emporiki Bank and Allianz Bank. The Bulgarian National Bank official stats are due out at the end of this month.

On the tourism front, the number of tourists visiting Bulgaria increased during January and February this year by nearly 8%, compared with last year at the same time. Figures out by the Bulgarian Ministry of Tourism showed that over 435,000 foreigners visited, with those on holiday showing ann increase of nearly 30% over 2009. Visitors from Macedonia were 41.5% up.

Good news for Bulgaria's green business development with an announcement from Solarpro Holdings. The company, the largtest manufacturer of solar panels in the Balkans has started constructing to solar parks in Malko Turnovo and Devnya. The plant at Malko Turnovo covers 112 decares and will be built in the next eight months, then connecting to the electricity network by the end of the year. The largest solar park in Bulgaria is at Yankovo, near Shoumen and has been connected to EON's network since February this year.

Anyone who has tried to return faulty goods in Bulgaria will not be surprised by the news from the European Commission that Bulgaria is bottom of the EU countries for protecting consumer rights. The 'Consumer Scoreboard', which came out yesterday, found consumer rights confidence highest in the UK. The study covered several areas of consumer right including, effectiveness of resolving disputes and handling complaints, trust in authorities, retailers and advertisers.

The UK scored highest with a score of 68 - and Bulgaria lowest with a score of 37. The EU average score was 55.

The survey also studied online spending habits and Brits again came out top, with 66% spending online, compared with an EU average of only 34%.

The supermarket chain, Billa, has announced plans to open a further 20 supermarkets in Bulgaria during 2010. There are already 65 outlets operational throughout the country and the next addition will be in Sofia, due to open at the end of this month. REWE, who own Billa and Penny Market, have also just opened their first Penny Market discount store in Bulgaria.