Over supply and flagging demand puts the Bulgarian property market in doldrums

The global economic downturn and poor management of investments have undermined the Bulgarian real estate market in the first half of 2009 with the office segment being the most severely hit, according to a new survey.

The commercial sector has been badly affected by ample supply and flagging demand, says the survey by Foros real estate agency.

Around 20 to 30% of offices across the country are empty. Rental and sale prices have decreased by 12.27% and 7.26% respectively since January.

The residential property market is also suffering. Jones Lang LaSalle has estimated the decline at 12% in Sofia in the last year while real estate agency Address puts it at 16 to 38% in the last six months alone.

Analysts from Foros are predicting sporadic investment activity in the second half of the year. Development projects will be delayed and a recovery is not expected until the economy improves.

However, some analysts see the green shoots of recovery in consumers' revived interest and restored confidence, as well as in decelerated price downtrends.

Although there is dismay among environmentalists that what they regard as development that impact on areas of importance are still being given planning permission.

They are campaigning against a €2.2 million residential property development near the town of Kavarna in north east Bulgaria. They claim that the July Morning holiday village being developed by Bulgarian Land Development will have a serious impact on a site of natural beauty.

It is part of plans for a much bigger €40 million development that will have 351 homes, a spa centre, restaurants, golf and football pitches and five swimming pools.

Work begins on the €2.2 million first stage next month and it will have 55 apartments. 'This development will destroy nature. It will also harm the coastline,' said one group spokesman.

Meanwhile and Irish company, Blackwater Homes, which is currently promoting a 354 apartment complex in the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria, including a spa and a hotel, has filed for bankruptcy protection.