NEWSLETTER

04.02.2015 Annual report for the Bulgarian residential and vacation property market 2014

The past year was the most successful one for the property market since the beginning of the crisis. The market entered a new stage of development, the drop in property prices stopped and that made many buyers return to the market.

The return of the buyers that is how we can summarize 2014. Bulgarian buyers returned to the market and started buying properties in the big cities of the country which lead to the increased number of sales and to a positive price change for the first time since the beginning of the crisis.

An important element of the new market reality is the return of the confidence in the property market. More and more buyers are thinking of buying a property because real estate is a safe real asset and a good investment. This understanding coincided with a very favorable moment in the property market development, because real estate prices are currently at levels from 10 years ago and respectively, the properties are much more affordable. We could also add to the picture the improved mortgage conditions now offered by the banks. This is how Polina Stoykova MRICS, Managing Director and Head of Research of BULGARIAN PROPERTIES, summarizes 2014 for the real estate market in Bulgaria.

Sofia

During 2014 there were 2 periods with different market dynamics the first half of the year, in which real estate attractiveness and prices remained unchanged compared to 2013 and the second half of the year in which the number of deals increased rapidly, the supply started decreasing, and the real prices, as well as the asking prices, started slowly increasing. These processes lead to 3% increase in the prices of apartments in the Bulgarian capital.

According to the data of BULGARIAN PROPERTIES, the average price per square meter of sold apartments in Sofia in Q4 was 764 /sq.m., whereas for Q3 it was 750 /sq.m. and around 735 /sq.m. in the first half of the year. The overall average purchase price of apartments in Sofia during Q4 is 80,850 Euro, compared to 78,600 Euro for Q3. Thus, for the whole 2014 the average total price of purchased apartments in Sofia is 79,100 Euro, with 61,500 Euro for 2013. In 2014 the average price of the apartments sold increased due to activisation of the middle segment of the market and deals were made at higher levels between 60,000 Euro and 100,000 Euro, something that rarely happened during previous periods. Together with that the number of deals with luxurious apartments with prices over 100,000 Euro also increased.

The purchased 2 and 3-bedroom apartments represent around 40% each of the whole number of deals made, and the remaining 20% are large apartments, two-level penthouses and houses. Almost 50% of all sold properties were furnished and ready to be lived in or rented out.

Bansko and the ski resorts

Throughout 2014 the drop in the prices in Bansko continued, but the good news is that the price changes are now below -5% and we may expect more deals during the already very active winter season.

The average purchase price per sq.m. of sold apartments in Bansko for 2014 was 360 /sq.m. The average overall purchase price of apartments in the resort were on record low levels 20,100 Euro - a price that is actually affordable for local buyers too and that is why at the moment 50% of the buyers in Bansko are Bulgarians.

Bulgarian buyers may be only 50% in Bansko but their share in the other two resorts Borovets and Pamporovo reaches record levels of 90%. Presently these 2 bigg ski resorts are dominated by Bulgarian buyers. The average prices per sq.m. of real deals in Borovets for 2014 were 630 Euro/sq.m., and 35,700 Euro for an apartment, and in Pamporovo the price levels were close to those in Bansko 370 Euro/sq.m. and 26,200 Euro respectively.

Sunny Beach and the beach resorts

The property market at the seaside suffered from the withdrawal of the Russians who were the main buyers there they postponed their decisions for property purchases and as a result, the number of sales decreased, which was especially evident at the end of the year. This put the property market at the seaside on hold, and put an end to a 2-year recovery cycle for the beach resorts which were the first markets to start recovering from the crisis.

The average price per square meter of purchased apartments in Sunny Beach in 2014 was 582 Euro/sq.m. and remained unchanged compared to 2013 (580 Euro/sq.m.). The average overall price of purchased apartments in the resort for 2014 was 32,550 Euro.

An interesting trend in 2014 was the increased demand for properties in Varna and the Northern Black Sea resorts, which continued till the end of the year and included Russian buyers. Their withdrawal from the Southern resorts happened simultaneously with the increased interest towards the Northern beach resorts and Varna and in many cases they were looking for properties for permanent living and relocation.

Rural properties

This segment of the market shrank the most since the beginning of the crisis and it continues shrinking and even disappears in some regions. In 2014 the number of deals with rural houses decreased with about 20%. The most popular houses last year were the ones around Veliko Tarnovo and Gabrovo where traditionally there is a big foreign demand. Other places where there was demand for rural houses were around Plovdiv and Stara Zagora, but the demand there was dominated by Bulgarian buyers. There is also interest towards houses around Varna and Burgas, as well as close to the seaside.

During the last months there is a growing interest to houses and even apartments in small villages around Sofia.

The average overall purchase price of village houses for 2014 according to data of BULGARIAN PROERTIES was 18,000 Euro, and remained unchanged compared to previous years. Buyers prefer furnished and ready-to-use houses with prices around 10,000 Euro, but often the prices reach levels between 20,000 and 40,000 Euro, depending on their location.

Perspectives for 2015

In 2015 the trends of market recovery will continue, as the demand in the bigger cities will continue growing being the main driving force for the property market in Bulgaria as a whole. Our expectations for this year are the market to be mainly driven by Bulgarian buyers in diverse segments, which were traditionally dominated by foreign buyers. A lot of Bulgarians will focus on buying properties at the seaside and the ski resorts. We will also witness an increased demand from British buyers which has become evident with the start of the winter season.

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