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Bulgarian Property: Hotspot

Currently, most buyers looking to buy property in Bulgaria are those seeking a holiday home, retirement property or a permanent move rather than investors with their calculators at the ready for making a fast buck. In other words, lifestyle buyers. With so many areas having been 'done to death' by British buyers, who bought at the top of the market, the question now is where to look for quality value-for-money authentic Bulgarian property this year?


Over-supply in sea and ski resorts, has lead to some developers of new constructions experiencing difficulties in completing complexes and property prices have fallen in these areas. In other regions, Veliko Turnovo, so popular with the Britons during the past few years, has seen prices plummet and, whilst lovely, it has one major draw back it is a long way from the international airports. The regions of Elhovo and Yambol saw initially a huge surge in foreign buyers, predominantly because the propertieswere so cheap, but this is a poor agricultural region of Bulgaria.

The lifestyle buyer is more demanding in terms of both location and quality. Quite rightly so; they are looking for a property which will be a home. These buyers are seeking to secure a long-term property investment, somewhere original, a piece of the real Bulgaria, where the prices have not been pushed up by foreigners and yet have also maintained their value during these economic difficulties.

The major cosmopolitan cities of Sofia and Varna remain well positioned of course for those seeking a decent return on city centre property. But for those wishing for a more genuine Bulgarian experience, city, sun and ski are being put to one side and being replaced by excellent quality village properties, within 90 minutes of an international airport in thriving locations with architectural flair and style.

These chic pproperties are suitable for those looking for a holiday home or a permanent move they combine a great lifestyle choice and long term investment value.

Quest Bulgaria investigates one such potential area in the Sliven / Bourgas region of south east Bulgaria.

Situated in breathtaking countryside with panoramic views, this area is set on the edge of Balkan Range (stara planina) towards the city of Bourgas. Hidden in the arms of the Sliven Mountains, with its enchanting natural beauty and spirit, is the new treasure of this region.

There are a number of well developed pretty villages to be found in this area, Kotel and Jervana being the two most well known, offering a good quality of life, yet within an hour or so of the coast and Bourgas international airport. The average price of property in this region is around 40,000 to 50,000 euros.

Bourgas and the southern Black Sea coast has always been a favourite with many Bulgarians, who often prefer it to the northern coastline, saying that this region is more friendly and has retained more of its natural beauty.

The buying fundamentals are all here

Buying where the locals buy, is always a good thing to do as prices are usually more affordable and generally prices hold better in any crisis. The other key to follow is - where the tourists go, the property buyers follow later as prices are sustainable. The villages in this area are in the main "listed villages", meaning they are architectural and historic reserves and are protected. They attract thousands of tourists and the style of the villages has to be preserved. Most buyers know, that they are not building any more of these original quality properties and, like anything where there is low supply, prices are maintained and increase.

These key factors are also why you won’t find the best 'deals' in this area. You can’t wander around looking for cheap sales here because this market wasn’t funded by huge amounts of borrowing.

Property is nearly all Bulgarian-owned with no mortgage, many also are bought by wealthy Bulgarians as holiday homes for themselves during the summer months.

However,  what you will find is that the prices are significantly lower than the resorts, the quality and architecture of the houses is beautiful and property is extremely good value for money.


Where's hot?

Nothing can beat the romance and charm of an original property in a protected Bulgarian village where traditional architecture meets modern comforts.

Kotel - a very clean and tidy small town with all facilities. Surrounded by lovely mountain views from all parts of town, accessible all year with excellent roads, dynamic mayor, twice weekly market, school, doctors, shops, restaurants, hotels. The old quarter (galata), with the original houses, is the most sought-after place to buy, although some of the later town houses are really pretty too
Jeravna - a famed village. A bit like being in a living museum and a lot of 'grockles" during the summer
Katounishte - a really pretty hamlet, so very quiet but does have two small shops for day to day items, located alongside a river so watch out for potential flooding on low-lying properties
Medven - a wonderful approach to this small village, which has a traditional mehana. Sleepy little place
Ichera - stick to the part with the original houses, small hotel at end of village with pool. Small shop in the middle

.. and not so hot
Gradets - has a large quarter which is very run-down, although definitely buy all the beautiful and cheap local stone here for your home, wonderful for patios
Neikovo - rather agricultural in feel and fairly run down but if you are looking for off the beaten track could be for you

The best about this area

Under the municipality of Sliven, a progressive municipality with really excellent roads and infrastructure. Slivent itself is a delightful large town just like an "inland Varna" and very westernised. Fantastic daily fruit and veg market, with six day a week meat and fish market. There is also a golf course at Sliven.

Just over an hour on a fast good highway from the Black Sea coast and Bourgas airport with international flights.

Quality historic houses, many listed, making excellent family homes: protected so ensures no new unsuitable building and protects your investment. A centre of history and Bulgarian culture.

Tourism is healthy, good bus services, tidy and clean, wonderful architecture, breathtaking views


Value for money property

What you can get for your money in the villages today are real bargains, from renovations to new builds, through to fully renovated and ready to move in. Prices start from as low as 5,000 euros for a total rebuild to 249,000 euros for ultimate luxury. A renovation job could set you back considerably as the price of building materials has increased substancially in recent years,but it allows you the option to design the property to suit your needs.

Remember the property mantra: 'location really is everything'? If you’re a lifestyle buyer thinking of purchasing a good value property in Bulgaria it pays to look further than Bansko, Sunny Beach and Sofia and take a peek at this fascinating area and its beautiful villages.

Hotspots, like these, tend to have inherent appeal - they have it all: the views and features, the architecture, the ease of access, the local attractions, excellent roads, amenities and the climate. This is why interest for property gravitates there and will continue to do so.



Photographs other than Kotel, courtesy of Photographs by Nikolay Dimitrov