Real estate consultancy says property is best form of investment in Bulgaria

Real estate consultancy says property is best form of investment in Bulgaria

Real estate has soared in value by more than 300 per cent over the past decade, according to real estate consultancy agency Address, and as such, remains the soundest  investment in Bulgaria, despite recent falling values, the agency said in a media statement."Regardless of the decline in value over the past two years, Bulgarian real estate remains the best form of investment," the statement reads. The agency goes on to say that "property currently on offer suffered a further 14.5 per cent decline in value in April and May".Address says that the data disclosed is based on actual transactions completed over the years."Most vendors are poor, people who rely on a minimum monthly income and their house is their only real asset. This is why they are reluctant to part ways with their property at any price. On the contrary, they wait it out - hence most of the best property in the country remain on the market longer as people seek better offers," said Tsvetelina Tasseva, chief executive of Address.According to Address, substantial discounts are still available on the market - a flat of about 90 sq m in the centre of Sofia was recently sold for only 50 000 euro, a 45 per cent markdown on the original asking price.In another surprising case, Address reports of an apartment in the elite Sofia borough of Lozenets being sold for 58 000 euro, down from the initial asking price of 78 000 euro - a discount of about 35 per cent.According to Tasseva, towards the fourth quarter of 2009, demand increased by about seven per cent. In the first quarter of 2010 demand increased further still but during the April-May period it slumped by about 15 per cent.She reckons this tendency is because sellers are less prone to negotiate and complete the deals and are determined to wait it out for better offers in the future.On average, a 70 sq m flat, fully furnished, in a good area in Sofia, fetches about 40 000 euro, according to Dnevnik. And although such possibilities currently do exist in Sofia, a more realistic possibility for the same price (40 000 euro) would be a 70 sq m flat, which is pending completion and without Article 14, which is a very risky enterprise.Article 14 relates to a special document that allows for the building to be constructed in the first place. Specifically, it allows for the foundation structure of the building to be erected, including the ceiling, but nothing else. So, technically, buying a flat without article 14 risks a new owner being told that the building has to be razed because it has been erected illegally.Alternatively, 40 000 euro would buy a 60 sq m in an old "socialist"-style panel flat or 45 sq m in a new construction.Colliers say that property in major cities varies from 400 to 800 euro a sq m, depending on location, and that people are not likely to find property at 200-300 euro a sq m in cities like Sofia and Varna, Dnevnik reported on March 22.Prospects for the future in 2010 remain uncertain. According to some agencies, the bottom has been reached and values can only increase. According to agencies such as Foros, Colliers, Address and Bulgarian Properties, real estate values will continue to depreciate until the end of June. They reckon on a further 10 per cent decrease followed by stabilisation.Other property agencies like Aristo, Yavlena and B&H, however, argue that the bottom of the market was reached in March - April.

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