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Bulgaria Property Prices

With mixed messages coming out of the Bulgarian property market regarding price trends, I am reminded of the old nursery rhyme, The Grand Old Duke of York - "when they were up, they were up - when they were down, they were down - and when they were only half way up, they were neither up nor down".

One minute it's a report saying there has been a 30% increase, next it's a 15% downturn, then it's another saying stagnation.

 

Overall, property is pretty stable. There are pockets which are not doing well where oversupply has been keeping prices down yet there are equally many areas where prices are doing consistently well.

The maturing of the market is slowing price increases from the heady days of 35% to a more reasonable and sustainable 10%. Whilst this may not be good news for those looking to make a quick profit, it is good news for those who want to buy a holiday home, cater to the increasing number of tourists, move to the country or just buy and hold.

On the coast

Several estate agents in Bourgas have recently announced that prices have not changed during the last four to five months.

They indicate that presently there are no signs of decreasing prices but there is also no sign of any increase. The agents put this down to wary investors and buyers in the current global conditions, putting purchases on hold until they see what trends emerge from the crisis. They believe that future prices will be affected by the location and build quality of the property for sale, those that are of high quality in top spots plus have good infrastructure, will do best in price increase terms, whereas those failing to meet these demands will see price decreases.

Apartment prices in Varna fell in the third quarter of this year. Whilst only a small decrease of minus 0.4%, it does set a potential trend. Again, properties lacking in quality or location suffered most. Front line apartments in top quality blocks were still selling and even showing a slight increase. The large supply of off plan projects which are not frontline and of poor quality will keep prices down.

Where prices have fallen, this is providing a good opportunity for those buyers with liquid money.

High quality, finished apartments and villas are proving parituclarly popular with Russian buyers. If you're looking to sell such a property on the coast right now, then don't overlook this market.

Inland

Inland, in the small towns, villages and the countryside there is a continual increase in prices, although significantly slower than in the previous three years.

Again, those properties which are in the best villages are showing marked increases and demand is additionally high amongst the local buyers. This sector is currently the most vigorous market, particularly where locals are buying.

Blagoevgrad and Vidin, along with other smaller towns have shown price increases - but still have good value property at 450 euros a sq.m.

Quality properties with significant architectural interest and history are especially popular with the Bulgarians and consequently prices are being pushed up by local demand.

 

Land

Agricultural land has shown the highest price increase of any real estate transaction, with hikes of between 35 to 40%. The most expensive area currently is the Dobrudja area, where prices are around 500 leva per decare. This market seems to have been pretty unaffected by the financial crisis, although current indicators show that the price increases are slowing down.

Ski

Only the best quality developments are getting good prices, elsewhere there is price stagnation.

Some Britons are selling below the price they bought at in order to rectify financial problems at home. As with the coast, those with liquid money are seeking bargains.

Pamporovo agents recently reported a downturn in prices by as much as 15%.

Recently, the Bulgarian ski resorts performed well in a survey conducted by the Post Office, coming third place in worldwide destinations for skiing holidaymakers, so the rental scene looks positive.

 

 


 

Cities

Prices of apartments in Rousse have shot up with Romanians snapping them up but this has slowed right down recently. Apartments in Plovdiv, in the last three months, have shown an increase of 11%. Top end properties in the best areas are much in demand in all the cities. Sofia has tailed off a little, showing an increase in the same period of 6.8%. Rental yields are quite good but not excellent, ranging from 5 to 7%.




Large plan developments have been scaled down which is beneficial in those areas where over-development has occurred. Many of these will not suddenly halt but may be altered to more European style developments with less build per sq.m.

Lower price properties (those in the 45000 to 90000) euro range will probably see price decreases, as this is the market range in which so many UK property purchasers were most active. Mid range property, which accounts for over half of all property transactions, is faring much better and agents believe these properties will increase by between 5 and 10%. Top end property, which only accounts for a small segment of the market (around 4%), is also seen to provide favourable profits.

Compared with the UK, this is all good news for Bulgaria. Figures announced 30th October by the Nationwide in the UK, show that property prices have fallen by 15% in the last year. They are the first big lender to produce a report on the current UK market this month. Nationwide also says that the number of transactions is at its lowest level since 1974 and that house prices have dropped every month for twelve months, with houses taking 60% longer to sell than a year ago.

Buyers of Bulgarian property are also taking a longer time to decide upon their purchase as there is more competition with new developments but nothing like the lengthy period in the UK. Whilst the credit crunch has not dampened demand for property, investors and buyers have realised that Bulgaria has more to it than the coast and ski resorts. Some have shifted their attention to the countryside, moving to areas where prices are lower or better value for money.

Bulgarian property which fares best has:
- quality
- location
- infrastructure
- year round opportunities

The Bulgarian property market is beginning to cool but it still offers potential. Findings from the Oxford Business Group reported that whilst the days of 30% year on year increase are over, yields have not gone below 10%.

Look long term, select the best property in the best location, negotiate - and you'll still make a profit.