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Back You are here: Home Property Where to Buy Successful Property Buys: the Bulgarian Riviera

Successful Property Buys: the Bulgarian Riviera

Looking to buy quality property on the coast in Bulgaria? The largest beach resort on the Northern coast and undoubtedly the most cosmopolitan, Golden Sands has worked extremely hard to change its image from a cheap and cheerful package holiday resort renowned for cheap booze, food and entertainment into a mini version of Nice or Cannes. There is no doubt about it; Golden Sands has left other Bulgarian summer resorts standing. It offers clean beaches and clear seas against a classy, pedestrianised promenade flanked by inviting swimming pools.

The resort is spotless, there is little crime and certainly the hordes of rowdy young Brits have long since gone to make way for a more upmarket international clientele from neighbouring countries as well as Russia and the Middle East. That’s not to say that there is no place for young people who want to have fun; the resort is full of nightclubs and bars and during the peak season they are packed with a new cosmopolitan jet set.

Renovation and renewal

Just as Las Vegas periodically tears down what seem to be perfectly good hotels to make way for newer, bigger and more exotic buildings, Golden Sands has done the same. The frontline was once dominated by hotels in a Communist architectural style reflecting the period when the resort was a playground for the Soviet elite. These glass and concrete seventies designs have long since been torn down and in their place stand a mix of stylish hotels like the Admiral and Melia alongside apartment blocks like the Zlatna Kotva. The promenade is now filled with chic bars and restaurants with names like “The White Bar,” where all fixtures and furnishings are a stylish shade of white. On other tiers of the resort construction continues at an avid pace to complete apartment blocks, stores and hotels in time for the 2009 season. Those who fail to complete their exterior work before the main season opens in April are not allowed to continue construction until the resort closes again in October and this building ban is strictly adhered to.

Apartment blocks hold the key to large profits

Large investors in Golden Sands resort have opted to convert many of the hotels in their property portfolio into luxury apartment blocks. The most popular types of property in the resort are studio and one-bedroom apartments. They are always sold off-plan and there have been some genuine bargains in most of the developments over the last three years with studios selling for 35,000 euro in second line complexes like Iglika, where the average price was 65,000 euro. Iglika is a 500 strong apartment complex, built in a tasteful cream blending in with the five star Admiral hotel on tier one and the Melia Grand Hermitage on tier three. It sold out for three main reasons; it looked classy, it was close to the beach and prices were reasonable. On the third tier where development is still in its infancy, one-bedroom apartments now sell for 40,000 euro, which shows what a bargain those early birds in Iglika got. Whilst the Brits and Germans were the most popular investors two years ago, the Russians have snapped up most of the frontline real estate. Iglika completed in 2006 is fully sold and Admiral Apartments on the frontline, completed in 2007 have only one apartment left for sale and this is one of the junior penthouses retailing at 264,633 euro for 217.6 sq m. The newest addition to the frontline apartment blocks, the Zlatna Kotva hit the market just as the global recession was dawning last year, yet most of the apartments have been sold with about 50 left. Those vacant apartments cost are over 100,000 euro and are well worth the money given their prestigious location and excellent facilities.

Rental income and Resales

Many people snapped up apartments in Golden Sands for the rental potential. The resort offered nothing in the way of self-catering apartments so when developers completed the first wave of apartment blocks rental contracts with the large tour operators were easy to come by and yielded good returns. Apartments on the first and second tier will always be easy to rent out and most of the developers secure contracts with tour operators over several years. Those further back in the resort are not so lucky. Here, apartment owners are left to find their own rental clients and with package holidays offering cheap flights and hotel accommodation it is not easy to find clients who are prepared to take on the cost of going it alone. The recession may have tapered the growth in the tourist market but this is no more than a temporary blip; tourism is set to grow over the next ten years bringing with it a more affluent, well-healed tourist who has money to spend.

If you buy property on the frontline or the second tier close to the central promenade then you will be assured of good resale profits. Frontline space is limited, no-one can build in front and spoil the view and soon there will be nowhere left to build on this prestigious site. However, to get the best profits, now is not the time to resell; investors are best waiting until there is no new property on the market to compete against. Savvy investors have all singed rental contracts with the large tour operators guaranteeing six months of rental income each year. If you have this option it is well worth taking, then considering a resale five years later.

Higher prices

Quality and style come at a price and the resort is no longer a cheap vacation destination. One night in the luxurious five star, Melia Grand Hermitage Hotel in peak season will cost 390 euro a night compared to 254 euro at the Sunny Beach equivalent, the Victoria Palace. A beer costs 5 lv. compared to 2 lv. in Sunny Beach and a meal for two will cost in the region of 60 lv. in Varna the same meal would cost you half of this price. Designer clothing and souvenirs are still cheap to buy and there are some wonderful bargains to be had. The upside is that the resorts infrastructure and level of service is excellent. You are highly unlikely to experience power cuts and water shortages here unlike other Bulgarian resorts further south.
In terms of property, apartments start at around 1,000 euro a sq m with penthouse suites on the premier tiers retailing at 500,000 euro plus, yet, such prices are not putting off Russian buyers, who are flocking to own their piece of this Bulgarian heaven – very few penthouses are left to sell.

No chance of over-development

Golden Sands is not prone to over-development like its southern sister Sunny Beach. Situated on more than 1,800 hectares of land, almost the entire coast along the resort falls within the boundaries of the Zlatni Piyasatsi National Park and will be protected by the European Union’s Natura 2000 policy. The EU set up Natura to protect Europe’s flora, fauna and historic monuments as well as protecting traditional lifestyles of local people in these areas. To comply with this policy and avoid crippling fines, as well as the demolition of any building contravening Natura‘s policies, developers in the resort will not be able to build further back into the lush green forest and the government has already limited the height of buildings along the coast as well as forbidding development closer than 100 metres to the sea. Last year 50 developments in the resort were issued with demolition orders and the work was carried out. Varna mayor Kiril Yordanov is determined not to have a mini Benidorm on his door step. Overall, the future looks optimistic for Golden Sands. The resort seems set to enjoy a new lease of life, thanks to careful and considerate management and development. Providing you choose your location within the resort carefully you can make healthy profits in the future.