Bulgaria real estate market sees steep decline in new builds

Construction of new residential property in Bulgaria has declined dramatically according to the latest figures published by the National Statistics Institute.

Building declined 42.8% in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the last quarter of 2008. Compared with a year ago the fall is 12.9%, the data shows.

There is some new construction in underway in Varna, Bourgas, Plovdiv and Sofia. But not a single building was completed in Kyustendil or Stara Zagora, the report says.

The industry expects a further slump. 'The trend is likely to get worse in the second quarter. I expect the decline to reach 20% as opposed to cumulative figures from last year,' said Ivan Boikov, executive director of the construction chamber in Bulgaria.

NSI statistics also show that the average size of a new apartment has been reduced in size from 78.3 square metres, down to 75.5 square metres.

Meanwhile action is being taken against illegal construction. Three buildings on the beach in the Black Sea resort of Bourgas have been demolished by the city hall for failing to conform to legal requirements.

According to the Black Sea Act, buildings built for commercial purposes that have lifeguards, medical assistance posts or public toilets within their confines cannot cover more than one per cent of the beach, a stipulation the three buildings failed to abide by.

The three buildings were also demolished because they failed to meet the requirements of the so-called 'removable places'. This stipulates that the only sections of newly-built structures along the Bourgas Black Sea beach that can have roofs are kitchen areas. These requirements aim to replace the solid concrete buildings currently existing on the beach by light constructions that are easily removeable at the end of the season.

British property investors are beginning to return to the Bulgarian property market according to figures for the first quarter of 2009 from UK portal Property Abroad.

The figures show that Bulgaria jumped from ninth most popular in the first quarter of 2008 to 8th place this year. 'It is not a major jump by any stretch of the imagination, but for us, immersed in the industry, watching and reading the negative press about Bulgaria and seeing thousands of British buyers rushing to sell-up, this is quite a pleasant surprise,' said director Les Calvert.