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First Foot on the Property Ladder

First time buyers are choosing Bulgaria over Britain for property. An Englishman's home is his castle - or so the saying goes.

However, getting a foothold on the property ladder is becoming more and more difficult for Britain's first time buyers. Nearly one in four are now priced out of the UK property market altogether, so it's no surprise that they are now considering alternatives which will give them that all-important first step without succumbing to the UK's high property prices.

With talk of 100 per cent mortgages, shared ownership schemes and 75-year loan terms, UK home buyers are looking to the Bulgarian property market to make their first home purchase. Just a quick search on the internet reveals many Bulgarian properties that offer 3 or 4 times the space of an equivalent UK house for a fraction of the cost.

The burden of a lifetime of mortgage payments is weighing heavily on young homebuyers' minds. Added to this, a survey with National Savings and Investments showed that a massive 84% of 18-24 year olds believe that buying their first home abroad is more viable than buying it in the UK.

The National Savings and Investments survey revealed that in London, 36% of first time buyers would consider buying abroad as an alternative to purchasing in this notoriously expensive city. Barclays' overseas divisions have reported a twofold increase in the number of enquiries about mortgages for overseas properties.

Girls and Boys

Unlike Britain, the Bulgarian property market is still buoyant and looks set to grow even further. It seems there is no better time than now to invest in Balkan bricks and mortar. Despite this positive forecast, many first time buyers remain reluctant to actually put down roots in Bulgaria. This could be due to preconceptions about the country which include, fear of the language barrier, its reputation for being a haven for senior citizens and worries about employment prospects. However, before writing off the possibility, younger and first time buyers should consider that there are infinite options open to them in Bulgaria.

The Bulgarian property market is undoubtedly more accessible for first time buyers than the UK and the savvy should use this to their advantage. Just one shrewd purchase in Bulgaria could fund a future property purchase in the UK - or, you might just love Bulgaria so much you may never want to leave.

The UK is awash with TV shows on property renovation, taking these elements and applying them to a Bulgarian home could pay dividends too. Many will agree that the UK property market is saturated with developers making renovation bargains thin on the ground. By comparison, Bulgaria is packed with potentially lucrative properties, from ready-made holiday apartments to serious building projects.

There are countless properties with potential to convert to bed and breakfasts or self-catering units. Projects can start as low as £5,000 for renovation projects with the opportunity to market your accommodation facilities to other Brits.

The brave may want to relocate entirely, which may entail finding gainful employment in Bulgaria. This is easier said than done if you don't have the necessary language skills. However, you can always solve that problem by buying an established business, or a property with business potential. It is possible to buy a ready-made business and it's not as expensive as you might expect.

Similarly, improvements to transport links are usually a sure sign that an area is going up in the world. Low cost airlines tend to have a ripple effect on the surrounding areas of any airport they add to their ever-expanding routes. These airlines are pivotal to the increase in holiday getaways. More and more people are making the most of long weekends and cheap flights for mini breaks overseas.

Nowadays,it is normal for people to take frequent trips to second homes instead of traditional, single longer vacations. This broadens the scope for Bulgarian property investment with some regions enjoying both long summers and ski-friendly winter seasons.

Making the move work for you and your job

Those regions with the best transport links offer a compromise between buying for pure investment and full-scale relocation. It is financially possible to live and work between two countries. Working in London and then spending your weekends in Sofia or Varna is now perfectly possible. It's worth bearing in mind that, under the UK's flexible working legislation, parents with a child under the age of six and certain adult carers have a legal right to request flexible working hours.

Even if you do not fall in this category, it might be worth asking your employer if you can work flexibly. An employer may only refuse a request from an eligible employee should there be recognised business grounds for doing so. With high-speed internet connections available in Bulgaria, employees can take the opportunity to work from their Balkan home.

Handy guide to making the right purchase

Remember to be realistic, if you love living in the city don't opt for a rural property just because it's cheaper.
Check the local infrastructure and how it can benefit your situation specifically. Does your area have good transport links, Wi-Fi, schools?
Don't buy on a whim, do as much research as you can into your chosen town, city or village location.
Be practical and budget. If you fall in love with a wreck, check the renovation costs with a professional and don't forget to build contingencies into your budget.
If your move is of a permanent nature, check out the job opportunities. Being a native speaker in a foreign country can give you a specific skill set that may offer new job possibilities.
Don't make assumptions, get out there and do your homework. Speak to other expats who have been in a similar position and learn from their experiences - good and bad!
Don't believe that all Bulgarian property is dirt cheap; it isn't but it can offer better value than comparable property in the UK.
Never underestimate the difficulty of establishing a business in a foreign country.
Be aware that the Bulgarian legal system and buying process is different from the UK. Get professional advice at every step.
Avoid buying on impulse. Remember, this is a serious financial commitment and monetary gains will invariably be reflected in your effort to weigh up the options.
Don't look through rose-tinted spectacles. Get impartial advice and use the same buying criteria as you would in the UK. Don't be attracted by internet ‘bargains' or promises of quick riches.

For more information on property prices see our Bargain Property Sales