Committee announced today that the 2005-2006 ski season drew record visitors to Bulgaria. A celebration event was held at Sofialand and featured the resorts of Bansko and Borovetz – the two mountain venues for Sofia 2014’s bid for the Olympic Winter Games.

“We are ecstatic with the attendance at Bulgarian winter sports destinations,” stated Tseko Minev, President of the Bulgarian Ski Federation. “The world is recognizing the amazing snow, fantastic accommodations and warm people of Bulgaria. Sofia 2014 captures all of this.”
Bansko, the proposed Sofia 2014 venue for alpine skiing and biathlon events had an increase of 35 percent from last year’s season. Borovetz, where all snowboard, cross-country and ski jumping events are planned for Sofia 2014, reports of a 10-percent increase in comparison to last year.
International skiing legends like Marc Girardelli and Rosi Mittermaier all extended their strong congratulations to Bulgaria. Girardelli said: “When I opened the 2005-2006 ski season at Bansko with Rosi Mittermeier and Franz Klamer, I called Bansko ‘the new gem of deep snow skiing.’ We all love Bansko and look forward to seeing Bulgaria host the big winter events.”
Sofia is one of seven cities in the bidding for the Olympic Winter Games of 2014. The International Olympic Committee will nominate the Candidate Cities on 22 June 2006 and the final city will be selected in July 2007.
Focus News

Bulgaria has opened its civil aviation market to competition with the signing June 9 of European Common Aviation Area (ECAA) pact.
The EU agreed the pact with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and the U.N. mission in Kosovo.
The pact would allow airlines to fly freely within the area, without limitations set previously under state-by-state bilateral agreements.
ECAA would also improve safety standards, boost competition and establish similar rights for consumers, the European Commission said.
The Bulgarian transport ministry said it will name the local enforcement date for the pact within a couple of weeks
Bulgarian carriers gain unrestricted access to all airports covered by the pact.
Dnevnik Daily

As many property investors keep a close eye on progress regarding Bulgaria’s prospective accession to the EU, prime minister Sergey Stanishev has said that his country will be working tirelessly to meet the required conditions in preparation for membership in 2007.

Property prices have already been shooting up across Bulgaria in anticipation of the accession with a report by Property Frontiers observing that there was an average property price increase of 47.5 per cent as early as 2004, while growth in the first quarter of 2005 was also particularly strong at 10.6 per cent.

Austria has now taken over the EU’s rotating presidency from Britain, and Bulgaria’s situation has been highlighted as one of the major considerations for the tenure. Mr Stanishev has welcomed Austria to the role and has called on EU member states to speed up the approval of Bulgaria’s EU accession treaty.

The Bulgarian government adopted a plan in December that includes 760 measures that should be taken into consideration before EU accession becomes a realistic proposition, and Mr Stanishev has announced that he is confident this will be achieved.

While some UK property investors are waiting for the completion of the project before they purchase land or property in the country, others have taken what they consider to be a calculated gamble, taking advantage of low competitive prices that are likely to rocket in the next few years.

In its Global Property Hot Spots report, currency specialist HIFX estimates that British overseas investors bought 77 per cent more property in Bulgaria last year than they did in 2004.

A report this week in the Sophia Echo has suggested that this policy may well be less of a gamble than some have implied, with research from Italian Unicredit and the Pioneer Investment fund showing that the wealth of the Bulgarian population will increase by more than 52 per cent in the next three years.

With the economy showing steady growth, house prices are likely to rise considerably even without EU accession while buy-to-let mortgages may prove to be particularly profitable as average household wealth steadily increases.

Furthermore, amendments to the Tourism Act approved in November 2005 included the long-awaited decision to abolish Bulgaria’s “double pricing” system, in which foreigners were required to pay higher prices than Bulgarians at hotels, restaurants and at resorts.

Criticised by ultra-nationalist group Ataka, the amendments mean that there will be a general increase in prices that will further benefit the property investment sector.

Aware of the prospective boom in construction within Bulgaria, the government is currently considering banning building work between May 1st and October 15th this year. This reflects a sensible and ultimately forward-thinking attitude to property investment that will do a great deal to prevent the construction of poor-quality properties.

The Sophia Echo reports that a number of low-budget airlines including Wizz Air entered the market in September last year, meaning that Bulgaria is no longer the only country in the region without a low cost airline.

Increased international flight routes from Bulgarian airports were also opened last year, while Sofia Airport is expecting a new terminal in 2007. Yet again, the effect on property investors is likely to be significant, with huge increases in the number of tourists impacting upon the health of the economy and prompting many foreigners to invest in the country.

According to statistics from the official Agency on Tourism, foreign tourists spent €1.661 billion in Bulgaria between January and September 2005, increasing revenues by around ten per cent compared to the same period in 2004.

©Assetz ltd

A report issued today has referred to Bulgaria as one of the most rapidly advancing nations in Europe and suggests that it is becoming a “byword for international property investment.”

The report by Property Frontiers supports the assertion from Assetz managing director Stuart Law that “Bulgaria is likely to continue proving lucrative as a long term investment into 2006.” It reveals that there was an average property price increase of 47.5 per cent in 2004 while growth in the first quarter of 2005 continued to be strong at 10.6 per cent.

Bulgaria boasts an incredibly varied landscape with hundreds of kilometres of Black Sea coastline and some of Europe’s most promising ski resorts that are now providing genuine competition to the more familiar locations in the Alps. It is partly this remarkable diversity that has made Bulgaria such an attractive choice to property investors in recent years, with commercial investment similarly lucrative in winter as it is in the summer months.

Part of the appeal is the fact that it is an emerging market and this has always proved to be an attractive factor for property investors looking for an exciting and potentially money-spinning challenge.

Mr Law yesterday urged caution to those looking at the Bulgarian market because of a lack of certainty in the resale market, but the report from Property Frontiers found that 40 per cent of property buyers were tantalised by emerging markets.

The report also refers to the prediction from the World Trade Organisation that Bulgaria will be visited annually by 20 million tourists by 2010. The dramatic rise to prominence of Bulgaria as a tourist hot spot is balanced by a commitment to high quality development and a policy of protecting natural resources. This is good news for investors as it indicates that the Bulgarian authorities have learned from the development mistakes made by other European countries.

With EU accession only likely to take place in 2007, property prices are still relatively low in Bulgaria although Property Frontiers has observed a significant trend in the cities of other Eastern European nations once EU accession has been granted.

Warsaw, Prague and Bratislava all jumped ten places in the Mercer Global Cost of Living Survey after their respective nations joined the EU, and price rises in Bulgaria during the last year suggest the same result is likely there too.

Specific areas of property interest include the mountain and coastal regions with ski resorts and traditional beach holidays becoming more popular each year. There is also an emphasis on golf resorts and spa health centres at the moment and Property Frontiers suggests that these areas can provide year-round rental potential.

©Assetz ltd

Bulgaria has moved to the top of a table of global property hotspots, with Cyprus a close second and France third, according to the latest Assetz Property Investment Tracker.

Conversely, Assetz said investors in both South Africa and Florida should beware of rising interest rates and plummeting returns.

The data reveals that in the first quarter of 2006, Bulgaria has stormed past Cyprus to the top of the hotspot table, offering a staggering 116% return on cash invested. Deposit levels of 30% are easily accessible to most investors due to the relatively cheap property, with a typical two-bedroom apartment costing in the region of £80,000. Bulgaria is now establishing a stable resale market and proving it has staying power as an investment destination. Although the level of house price growth is expected to tail off slightly during the remainder of 2006, Assetz predicts that overall market growth will remain high, alongside excellent yields of 12% in quality areas such as the ski resorts of Bansko and Bovorets.

Cyprus is not far behind and offers a lower-risk opportunity for investors, said Assetz. Low deposit levels of just 15% are possible now and Swiss Franc mortgages are available with rates of just 3.25%, making borrowing more affordable. Capital growth is likely to remain stable at around 15% which, combined with rental yields of 8%, results in a total of 84% return on cash invested.

Turkey, a new addition to the Tracker, will present a new overseas opportunity for investors who are awaiting a change in legislation to allow mortgages for foreign investors, expected later this year. Although gains are still strong, with 27% capital growth and 8% yield, the change of rules concerning borrowing will have a dramatic effect on the housing market, potentially pushing up prices in key areas as much as 50% in one year.

Growth in South Africa has slowed from 24.6% to 15.8% and is likely to continue falling. Mortgage rates, already 8.5% are rising, prompting serious concern over the stability of the market. Yields have fallen from 10% to as low as 5% in 2005, so rental income will fail to make a profit for many investors.

Stuart Law, Managing Director of Assetz comments: “Overseas markets are still offering excellent opportunities for investors, with Bulgaria and Cyprus now overtaking some of the more established destinations in terms of total return on cash invested.

“However, investors should remember that high return is often associated with higher risk. Established locations such as France are still holding up extremely well against the competition, offering a total 68% return on cash invested with an excellent holiday rentals market. With the low deposits requirement of just 15% in France, the total return on cash is still exceptional at 68%.

“Cheap Bulgarian ski destinations are certainly in as much demand as quality resorts in the France Alps. However, for sunny destinations combined with quality investment returns I prefer the South of France and Southern Cyprus to the coastal resorts in Bulgaria.

“Property in America is in a very tense state at present with conflicting statistics showing resilient existing home sales but collapsing new build sales volumes. The jury is still out on how safe it is to be investing in the States right now.”

©In2perspective Limited

New information page on
Accomodation in Bulgaria, hotels in varna city.

Visit and travel Bulgaria, Varna.

According to 25 per cent of the property investors in Bulgaria, the purchase of a terrain close to some major city is the most profitable real estate market participation option.

Investors purchase such terrains most often for the construction of an office building or trade centre, Novinar newspaper reported. Such types of investment lead in a ranking of the most preferred real estate purchases, according to an survey.

Twenty-four per cent of the investors believe agriculture terrains offer good opportunities. At the moment land prices remain relatively high. Prices are expected to go up in the near future.

Most of the surveyed investors prefer real estate close to the Black Sea coast line. According to 20 per cent, the purchase of property in Sofia is most profitable.

According to data of the National Statistical Institute the prices of property in Sofia rose by more than 20 per cent in 2005, compared to the previous year.

Eleven per cent of the surveyed investors find ski resort property to be most attractive.

An increasing number of Britons are buying second homes in Dubai and Bulgaria, according to a recent report of the British consultancy company HIFX.

The number of Britons buying homes in Dubai is up 60 per cent on last year, while 77 per cent more people are buying a property in Bulgaria.

“Although France and Spain remain the most popular destinations to buy abroad, due to their proximity and the cheap price of travel, British citizens are starting to look further afield,” Alex Wright, director of HIFX, commented.
“Bulgaria also is booming and the Black Sea resorts are reminiscent of Spain 20 years ago; investors are buying in their droves and there is similar activity in some of the ski resorts.

“Supply is in danger of outstripping demand from a rental perspective so investors should be wary; capital growth is what most speculative investors are chasing at the moment. Traditional areas such as Spain and France are still popular with families looking for a holiday home and retirees who plan to spend the majority of their time abroad but the younger generation are becoming more adventurous.”, 23rd December 2005

The issue:
Scores of column inches in foreign newspapers and vast volumes of cyperspace occupied by the websites of real estate agencies have been devoted to the view that Bulgaria’s property market is the place to be.

According to a report by specialist UK-based website assetz news on March 14, “confidence in the Bulgarian property market appears to be on the rise, as growing numbers decide they are prepared to invest their money in properties throughout the country”.

Few would disagree, assetz said, that the Bulgarian property market currently had “phenomenal potential”. This potential was being stimulated by the country’s expected accession to the European Union and with the comprehensive overhaul being done to Bulgaria’s infrastructure.

“If Bulgaria does indeed follow in Spain’s example in terms of a sustained property boom, investors who are currently getting their hands on remarkable deals will be set to make significant returns in the years to come,” assetz said.

Media reports in the UK and Ireland, along with some other European countries, in recent months have enthused about Bulgaria’s Black Sea property markets, as well as those in mountain resorts, and have said that there is rising demand for office space and accommodation in the capital city of Sofia. The overall message is that Bulgaria’s property market is at very least a safe bet, and quite possibly one that could guarantee a win.

Yet, there are other factors to consider. Much of the hype about Bulgaria’s property market is based on the relatively affordable prices of property. Given the popularity of the country as a place to invest in real estate, with the concomitant demand, prices are rising steadily. While this may be a good argument to invest now, to be sure of an optimum return, an argument may be made that the future is no longer what it used to be, and that in time the market’s boom must fade because of an inevitable increase in prices. At the same time, the boom in the property market is often linked to the popularity of Bulgaria as a tourism destination. However, the tourism industry is not without its challenges. First, that prices are rising, second, that “construction tourism” has been the foundation of much bad publicity for the country, third, the current shortcomings in low-cost flight services to Bulgaria. These factors will not kill either the tourism or the real estate industries, but they may limit its potential.

Is Bulgaria’s property market, then, a “bubble” that inevitably must burst? Or is what is being seen now simply the normalisation and growth of an emerging, and very attractive, market?

Though Bulgaria offers cheap property, real estate prices in the country are constantly on the rise, a lengthy article of the International Herald Tribune reads. The author tries to predict whether the trend will continue in the future.

The upward trend for property prices has been valid for the past 12 years. In 2005 a sq m of residential property became 36.6 per cent more expensive, data from the National Statistic Institute shows.

Despite the price increases, real estate in Bulgaria remains cheaper than property in Central European countries. A sq m in Sofia sells for 600 euro on the average, compared to the 750 euro in Slovakia’s capital or the 850 euro in Bucharest.

These lower prices continue attracting Western Europeans interested in property purchase, the IHT reports. The majority is looking for vacation homes, fewer search for investment opportunities.

Foreigners are involved in 23 per cent of the property deals concluded in Bulgaria in 2005. The total number of such transactions reached 220 000 for the past year, the IHT reported.

Interest remains high also because of Bulgaria’s expected EU entry. Construction costs and respectively prices would likely rice once the country joins the union.

As a result of these developments real estate is one of the most dynamically growing economic sectors in Bulgaria, the article concludes.

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