British property investors deserting Bulgaria

A sharp decline in property sales in Black Sea and ski resorts in Bulgaria has been revealed by real estate agents. British investors in particular are shunning the country.

Lux Imoti revealed it expects sales to drop 30 to 40% on Black Sea properties and 80 to 90% fewer on mountain properties this year.

At the same time Varna-based agency Foros, said it also expects a decrease in sales but at a lower 5 to 6%.

To add to their woes British investors, until recently the most prominent buyers of seaside and mountain properties, are trying to sell their off-plan and buy-to-rent apartments, often at a loss.

Two to three years ago buyers were paying €1,100 a square metre but now they are selling at just €850 to €900 a square metre.

Polina Stoikova of Bulgarian Properties Ltd reported similar figures and blamed the global credit crunch. 'Pressed by the higher interest rates on their mortgages, and the increasing fuel and food prices, people are forced to carefully prioritise,' she said.

The agents are unanimous that the decrease in sales can be attributed to the receding tide of British buyers. They have been replaced by Russian, Scandinavian and Romanian property investors but they are not buying on the same scale as the British.

Foros manager Dobromir Ganev said some properties are holding their price especially on the popular east side of Sunny Beach. But property prices on the west side of the resort are now half the value they were several years ago with some fetching just €600 a square metre.

Prices are similarly sliding in the ski resorts which are facing an additional problem of a crackdown on safety at building sites. Work at four construction sites in Bansko has been suspended because of safety concerns.

Government inspectors found various safety violations such as unguarded openings and staircases, dangerous pits, makeshift electrical control panels and exposed feeder cables as well as equipment with unguarded rotating and moving parts.

Checks on workers were also carried out and many were found not to have correct contracts and the status of some Chinese workers were in doubt.