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BLOG ARCHIVE - 2021
 

1710 Years From
The Edict of Toleration

On April 30, 311, Galerius proclaimed the Edict of Toleration at Serdica (today's Sofia - the Capital of Bulgaria) ending the Christian persecutions. Galerius died on May 5, 311. He was succeeded by Constantine I, his longtime rival. Constantine's rule marked a significant turning point for the Roman Empire, for he was the first emperor to convert to Christianity, but even prior to that had strengthened the original 311 edict of tolerance with his own Edict of Milan in 313, which banned all forms of religious persecution in the empire.

 

September 23,2021
Bulgarian National Bank to restrict mortgage loans as of 2021

The Bulgarian National Bank has taken a decision to restrict mortgage lending. The Board of Directors has decided to increase the capital buffer for banks' risk loans from 0.5% to 1% from 2021. The measure aims to ensure that vaults have sufficient reserves to cover losses on non-performing loans. As a rule, the buffer is increased when it is necessary to "cool" a large increase in credit.

For the first 7 months of the year, new loans in the country increased by over 7% compared to 2020, and housing mortgages by over 15%.

The BNB believes that this is dangerous as the concerns are about the accumulation of risks, which may appear in the increase in the volume of non-performing housing loans in the future.

 

September 14,2021
Price of agricultural land has risen by nearly 50 percent for 6 years

The price of arable land in Bulgaria has risen by over 47% for 6 years, the National Statistical Institute reported. In 2014, the average price was 362 euros per decare and in 2020 it was 533 euros. The biggest rise is seen in the southeastern region of the country - over 79%. Agricultural land there used to be cheaper, which made it attractive to investors.

The price of land in the northeast region of Dobrudzha rose by 51% and is sold for 752 euros per decare or 255 euros more in comparison to 2014. The lowest price rise was marked in the southwestern region - 21%. The price of meadows and pastures has risen by just 9 percent. The rent per decare remains low, as the price ranges between 25 and 30 euros.

 

September 1,2021
Bulgarians become the biggest investors in real estate properties in their homeland

The Covid-19 crisis has affected all business spheres. However, according to data of Bulgarian real estate agents, demand and sales of housing properties have gone up, especially in the big cities. In their view, this is due to several reasons, but the latest increase in property sales is mainly due to the return of confidence towards Bulgaria’s property market. Investors are showing serious interest in depreciated holiday properties sold predominantly by foreign nationals who are rushing to sell their properties in Bulgaria even at prices below the market prices. This is so, because these people find it difficult to travel during the coronavirus pandemic. The main purchasers of real estate properties in Bulgaria are Bulgarian citizens living in Bulgaria or abroad who invest their savings in properties, in order to rent them or spend their summer vacation in them.

Almost no foreign investors buy real estate properties in Bulgaria anymore, Kaloyan Balinov, co-owner of a real estate agency told the BNR-Varna:

“Our neighbors from Romania are now the only foreign nationals who are showing interest in Bulgarian property. Some Russians who settled in Germany also bought a property in Bulgaria as a form of investment. During the winter, the airlines suspend their flights due to the Covid-19 restrictions. That is why the foreign nationals who own properties in Bulgaria travel to this country during the summer season, but during the winter their trip to Bulgaria is very difficult and expensive. On the other hand, Bulgarians have been showing bigger interest in Bulgarian properties. Property sales rose significantly. Buyers are trying to buy off-plan properties or properties under construction. An entire residential complex consisting of four houses was sold before its construction even began. Highest interest in real estate properties was registered in Plovdiv, followed by Sofia and Varna.”

According to real estate agents, the prices of properties have slightly increased. In their words, this is due to the higher prices of construction materials, rather than to bigger demand. “The prices of iron and wood went up twofold. As a result, the prices of newly-built homes have increased between 10% and 20%. This is a result of the post-pandemic crisis”, Kaloyan Balinov went on to say and added:

“Housing prices in Varna have increased this summer. Residential buildings are built in new areas. The prices range from EUR 650 to EUR 900 per square meter. Investors are showing interest in village properties as well, which are a preferred destination for tourism during the weekends. People want to possess a property far from the traffic noise in the cities. Moreover, the prices of these properties are quite attractive and are much lower than the prices of urban properties”, said Kaloyan Balinov.

 

August 17,2021
Are Brits Investing In Bulgaria Because Of Its Lenient Travel Restrictions?

Many people expected the property market in Bulgaria to struggle in 2021. Property around the world was suffering price cuts, the pandemic having left potential home buyers with limited funds. Furthermore, Brexit was expected to have a big impact on British investment.

However, that has not been the case. While property prices saw very little growth at the start of the pandemic, the latest figures show that growth has now surpassed pre-pandemic rates.

Why should this be the case? Does an increase in British investment have anything to do with Bulgaria’s more lax travel restrictions?

Staying put

Before looking into British investment in Bulgarian property, we need to consider another potential reason for house prices to be rising. The pandemic has led first to stay-at-home orders, and now to an abundance of caution when planning for the future.

In the housing market, this means that more people are staying put in homes in which they’ve found comfort. A lack of sellers has led to a low supply, while demand has steadily increased once more. This is certainly one factor in the rising price of homes in Bulgaria in 2021.

However, it is far from the only factor. That caution is wearing off as vaccination rates increase. There are more homes available for sale now, even if the number is lower than what it was before the pandemic.

We also need to look at why demand is increasing. If people are choosing to stay put, shouldn’t demand also be low?

British property investment

One of the reasons few people expected the Brexit referendum in 2016 to come out on the side of “leave” is that British people love investing outside of the country. While they invest in property around the world, most property investment in recent decades has understandably been in countries in the EU.

There are many Bulgarian properties in the hands of British residents, who use them as holiday homes. This is in spite of the fact that the purchase of holiday homes has declined with the rise of services like Airbnb. Younger people are not buying holiday homes any longer as they would rather not be tied down to specific destinations.

Why older British people should be investing in property in Bulgaria at high rates even after a catastrophic pandemic is up for debate. However, there are potential answers that have to do with the approach to travel Bulgaria has taken.

British travellers around the world

When COVID-19 first hit, international travel seemed to be off the table for months on end. Many people suspected that travel might not resume until a vaccine had been found and dispensed to the vast majority of adults everywhere. However, only a few months in, everything seemed to calm down.

Travel resumed long before a vaccine was even close to being developed. It was not only for business or urgent purposes either. Tourism started up again, especially in Europe. Many British people travelled around the world.

Unfortunately, the pandemic was far from over. On the contrary, it reared its head again with what was at first called the “South African” variant. Now mostly referred to as the Beta variant, the new COVID strain turned out to be more easily spread and potentially more dangerous. It wasn’t long before the Beta variant turned up in the UK.

The Beta variant spread quickly in the UK and from there to the rest of Europe. Countries again closed their doors to the world, but especially to the UK.

Since then, we have seen the Gamma variant, and more recently the Delta variant which has seemingly spread more quickly than any of its predecessors. Each of these variants took hold in the UK on a larger scale than elsewhere in Europe.

EU Travel Restrictions

As such, most EU countries banned travellers from the UK. Bulgaria was among these countries. But as vaccinations became widespread in the UK, various countries took their own approach to letting in British tourists.

Bulgaria was among the more lenient countries, allowing fully vaccinated Brits in without requiring a quarantine period. It has therefore become a very popular tourist destination for British people during the peak of the summer.

This is potentially behind the rise in property investments in Bulgaria from British citizens. They were able to travel here and enjoy what the country has to offer, even if they usually would have gone elsewhere.

Money Transfer and Investment

Part of the reason British people can so easily purchase property in Bulgaria, even in a post-Brexit reality, is that money transfer is easily accessible and far more affordable than it once was. Whereas in the past, you would have spent thousands of pounds on money transfer and poor exchange rates in order to buy a home, there are now private companies who do a far better job.

Companies like XE carry out money transfers with minimal fees. They also provide the best possible exchange rate, whereas traditional banks would always hide extra fees in currency rates. XE money transfers are so easily facilitated now that this no longer has to be a consideration when deciding whether or not to make an investment.

XE Money Transfer supports Lev transfers, and it has been used by many to bring money in from the UK. Other private money transfer companies have also been used, each offering a variation of the benefits that private Forex has over banks.

British Investment Post-Pandemic

The easy access British tourists had to Bulgaria in the peak of summer 2021 has certainly impacted the decision of many to buy holiday homes in the country. This is even as the pandemic continues, although the end is in sight.

The trend will likely increase as things get back to normal around the world, and COVID variants become a thing of the past. As tourism grows and people feel more secure in their investments, we can expect to see property in Bulgaria selling like hot cakes.

 

August 9,2021
Real estate market on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast heats up

80% of the purchasers of holiday properties along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast are Bulgarian nationals, indicate data of experts from a large construction and investment company. “The travel restrictions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic and the uncertain economic environment made a number of people take action and buy properties. The prices of holiday properties remain stable, unlike the prices of urban properties which have continued to increase in the past twelve months”, note analysts in the field of real estate properties. In fact, investing in real estate properties along this country’s seacoast is a better option than buying a small flat in a big city.

“We have witnessed a sharp increase in the number of real estate transactions in the coastal towns of Sozopol, Nesebar and Pomorie”, said Diana Ivanova, manager of a real estate agency in Burgas. People are investing in holiday properties, so they can use them all year round, Diana Ivanova said in an interview for BNR-Burgas. The real estate properties in Sozopol have already been sold, said Diana Ivanova:

“The real estate market has heated up this summer both in terms of prices and the number of property transactions. Investors have been looking to buy properties not only in the city of Burgas, but also in other areas. People are looking for finished apartments, as well as for uncompleted projects, indicate data of notary offices located in this country’s coastal towns. The number of real estate properties signed at the notary offices has increased significantly. The property prices depend on whether the apartment sold on the real estate market is finished, whether it is located in a new building. Real estate prices also depend on the location of the given property. Investors who want to buy properties located in closed-type holiday complexes take the prices of maintenance, service and management of the property into account.”

According to real estate agents, the property prices in the area vary widely. However, investors mainly prefer properties whose prices fluctuate between EUR 800 and EUR 1,200 per square meter. “Some real estate properties are sold at higher or lower prices. Small apartments located in holiday complexes where maintenance is not perfect are sold at lower prices, which attracts investors’ interest, Diana Ivanova told BNR-Burgas.”

“Customers prefer finished and furnished apartments. Apartments from the secondary market, as well as newly built flats and apartments located in buildings under construction, are being sold at present.”

Buyers of holiday properties are mainly Bulgarian nationals, who want to invest their money. Some of them work abroad and invest their savings in this country. “Our clients are mainly Bulgarians. Sometimes, foreign citizens from EU member states also buy properties here. The Russian nationals mainly act as sellers of real estate”, added Diana Ivanova.

 

July 26,2021
Health Ministry Orders Termination of Contract for New Children's Hospital

The Health Ministry has ordered the termination of a contract for building a new children's hospital which would involve the completion of a complex of buildings nextdoor to Sofia's Alexandrovska Hospital.

This transpired on Monday from a Health Ministry letter to the National Citizens' Initiative for a Real Children's Hospital, which has been campaigning for a restart of the project. In the letter, Deputy Health Minister Dimiter Petrov says that on July 5 his ministry ordered the Healthcare Investment Company for a Children's Hospital (HICCH) to discontinue all activities related to the implementation of the engineering contract and all procedures arising from that contract in accordance with the Public Procurement Act related to independent construction supervision and investor control.

The Health Ministry has also asked the HICCH to start a procedure to terminate the contract with civil-law combination Detsko Zdrave (Children's Health), which comprises companies of the Glavbolgarstroy group and has won a public procurement contract worth 93.4 million leva after VAT for the design, construction and designer supervision of a National General Children's Hospital. As a reason for that, the Health Ministry cited a position expressed by the Regional Development and Public Works Ministry, which said that it is unacceptable to draw up a detailed site development plan to define the status of the unfinished structures nextdoor to Alexandrovska Hospital.

The contract with Detsko Zrave was signed in April 2020 by the then health minister Kiril Ananiev. The buildings at Alexandrovska Hospital which were to be completed had their first-sod ceremony back in 1978. The project was abandoned at the rough construction stage some 30 years ago. The idea that Bulgaria needs a new, state-of-the-art children's hospital to bring together the pediatric clinics and wards that are now scattered among other hospitals resurfaced a couple of years ago.

The original plan was to use the unfinished structures at Alexandrovska Hospital. After tens of thousands of parents, doctors, architects and members of the public protested that the long-abandoned structures were unsafe and unfit, in May 2020 prime minister Boyko Borissov announced that they will be demolished and the children's hospital will be built on the site from scratch. Borissov's statement was confirmed by Health Minister Kostadin Angelov on September 15, 2020 during public consultation on the project.

 

July 14,2021
Sofia Airport to be Modernized with an EIB Loan of 40 Million Euros

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the special investment company Sof Connect AD have signed a loan agreement of EUR 40 million for the modernization of Sofia International Airport, BNR reported, referring to the bank. Funding is supported by the European Commission's Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

The allocated sum will support the modernization of the infrastructure and components for regulatory activity, safety and security according to the latest standards. The project will also improve the efficiency of airport facilities, including energy efficiency components, and ensure state-of-the-art environmental protection, the EIB said.

 

May 4,2021
Bulgarians Buy out Russian’s Real Property on Black Sea Coast

Russians with properties on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast are now selling them en masse. Their withdrawal from the market is not because of the coronavirus, but because of the depreciation of the Russian ruble, according to brokers quoted by Trud.

There are some who have taken out loans in euros in their homeland to buy property here. Recalculating the loan worth on the basis of ruble exchange rate against the euro, they see that having property in Bulgaria is disadvantageous. Ninety percent of the Russians’ apartments by the sea are currently locked and announced for sale.

"Over 5,000 apartments were purchased by Russian citizens, but under the current circumstances they are announcing their property for sale. What is more important, though, is that there is interest from Bulgarians who want to buy property in Pomorie, because besides sea, sun and sand the town offers something else - the healing mud", say real estate brokers.

However, while the Russians are withdrawing from the real estate market, Bulgarians with savings invest boldly in houses and apartments. The realtors see a strong interest in buying spacious homes, as well as land plots by the sea near a large city.

"I would say that along the Black Sea coast most are looking for properties in Burgas. This is the city where potential buyers may come from almost everywhere. They could be foreigners, they could be from Haskovo, from Yambol... The city is nice, well located between the southern and northern Black Sea coast."

The expected entry of our country into the euro area causes many Bulgarians to invest in property, although 80 percent of the purchases of dwellings are with a mortgage loan, brokers report.

"Much of the demand is for realty in Sozopol, but there are deals concluded in Pomorie and Nessebar," brokers say.

Many Bulgarians who are worried about devaluation of their money prefer to put their savings in real estate.

"The others may buy a home for investment purposes, as property is a commodity that never loses its price like gold," the brokers say. They also acknowledge the lack of Britons who traditionally bought rural properties in Strandzha.

In recent months, only one German citizen has bought a house in Sozopol. But the interest of Turkish nationals, whose desire to buy property in Europe is mostly related to the possibility of doing business, makes an impression.

 

March 29,2021
Bulgaria's real estate market stable in 2020 despite coronavirus crisis - Raiffeisenbank

The real estate market in Bulgaria remained stable last year despite the challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, with residential property prices continuing to grow, albeit at a slower pace compared to the pre-crisis speed, Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria said on Monday.

The market was supported by the continuing decline in interest rates and comparatively high demand for mortgage loans, Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria said in a statement, citing the findings of an analysis conducted by the lender and based on data by property market indices PSPI and local realtor Bulgarian Properties.

Housing prices increased by 4.6% year-on-year in 2020 in the capital Sofia to an average selling price of 1,200 euro ($1,400) per sq m, by 3.5% to 900 euro per sq m in Burgas and by 2.4% to 870 euro per sq m in and Varna. Residential property prices in the second-largest city of Plovdiv rose by 4.7% last year, reaching some 800 euro per sq m.

According to the analysis, housing prices rose the most on an annual comparison basis in the cities of Sliven and Pernik - by 10.8% each, followed by Montana with 10.3%. Residential property prices decreased the most in Silistra and Yambol, by 6.5% and 5.5%, respectively.

The demand for residential property remained concentrated in Sofia and the rest of the biggest cities in the country but the restrictions introduced to limit the spread of the coronavirus infection resulted in a shift towards less popular locations such as villages near the big cities, the Black Sea coast, and the mountains, Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria noted.

Even though the housing market seems 'immune' to the crisis at present, the unfavourable consequences of the coronavirus pandemic are yet to manifest themselves, especially after the measures aimed at supporting the affected businesses expire, Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria said.

The market activity this year will depend on the success of Bulgaria's vaccination programme and the duration of the measures imposed to limit the spread of the disease, the bank added.

 
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Above information courtesy of Bulgarian National Radio, novinite.com and Financial Times

 

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