NEWSLETTER

2010-01-22

26.01.2010 Annual Report on the Bulgarian Real Estate Market 2009/2010

Polina Stoykova, Chief Operations Manager, BULGARIAN PROPERTIES

Apartments in Sofia
2009 – decrease in property prices, postponement of purchases and search for bargain deals.
2010 – in anticipation of reaching the market bottom, price stabilization and increase in the number of realized deals.

These are the general market trends in 2009 and the beginning of 2010.

2009 in numbers*:
• 36% decrease in the average property prices in the country compared to 2008;
• 40% decrease in the number of realized sales compared to 2008;
• 23% decrease in the average prices of apartments in Sofia and 55% annual decrease in the number of deals in the capital;
• 22.5% decrease in the average prices of apartments in Varna;
• 41% decrease in the average prices of apartments in Bansko compared to 2008;
• 40% decrease in the prices of apartments in Sunny Beach and the other southern Black Sea resorts;
• 53.5% decrease in the average prices of sold rural properties.
*The data is based on actually concluded deals by BULGARIAN PROPERTIES around the country

Main accents during the year:
• Continuous process of decrease in the properties’ prices;
• Conclusion of deals upon negotiation of prices lower than those announced;
• Demand and interest only in bargain offers;
• Limited bank financing as most purchases were cash ones.

SHORT OVERVIEW OF 2009

From the end of 2008 and during the whole of 2009 the deepening economic crisis and the stresses which people endured due to the insecurity of their income made a large part of the buyers postpone the purchase of a real estate for the future.

According to BULGARIAN PROPERTIES’ data the decrease in the number of concluded property deals is 40% compared to 2008. This percentage varies for the different regions – between 30 and 70%, as the decrease is biggest for the holiday homes at the seaside and in the ski resorts, as well as for the rural properties in the regions of Veliko Tarnovo, Montana, Kardzhali and Yambol. Despite the serious decrease in the number of deals in the ski resorts Bansko managed to partially regain the buyers’ interest in the second half of the year with an average of 41% price decrease compared to 2008.

Irregardless of the area and the property type the main trend was the same for all – bargain prices attracted buyers. Buyers continue following the market closely and react very fast if a bargain offer appears on the market. That is why our advice to the sellers looking for a fast sale is to offer a lucrative price.

The decrease in the average prices of realized property deals in 2009 is 36% compared to 2008. Therefore, 2009 marked the first year of the new century in which property prices in Bulgaria fell, and quite considerably at that.

In 2009 the property market entered a very difficult phase of property price decrease which has never happened in the short existence of this market in Bulgaria. In the beginning of 2009, for about 3 months, the market was at a complete standstill, waiting for better times, after which a staged price fall began and this made the market more dynamic at price levels far from those we knew from previous years. The decrease for the different property types varied – for some, for example properties in Sofia, the decrease happened faster, the market processes were more dynamic and there were deals throughout the whole year. While in other places – for example in Varna, prices fell in the second half of the year and this led to a slow residential property market which became more dynamic only in the last quarter of 2009.

PROPERTIES IN SOFIA

The property market in the capital Sofia is more mature and flexible than that in the other regions. According to the quarterly analysis of BULGARIAN PROPERTIES the average prices of the concluded deals are as follows:

• 1st quarter – 1,050 Euro/sq.m.
• 2nd quarter – 1,020 Euro/sq.m.
• 3rd quarter – 945 Euro/sq.m.
• 4th quarter – 980 Euro/sq.m.

This shows that the biggest decrease in the average prices of Sofia apartments took place in the third quarter – July-September, when deals were fewest. Most deals were realized in the fourth quarter – they were about 50% more compared to the previous quarter. This is due to the realized sales that were postponed during the year and also of the finding of bargain prices after the price decrease in the third quarter. At the end of the year there was a slight increase in the average prices of purchased apartments as in November it was the buyers in the higher segment that were most active – they bought apartments at an average price of 1,100 Euro./sq.m.

The average price of the apartments sold in Sofia in 2009 is 74,500 Euro which is about 23% lower than the average price in 2008 – 96,200 Euro.

VARNA

Up until the middle of 2009 the market was at a standstill and the sales made up only 11% of the realized deals of BULGARIAN PROPERTIES, the rest being rental deals. Until the middle of the year realized sales were either of cheap rural properties or of extremely luxurious and expensive apartments in Varna and the nearby resorts (at prices of over 200,000 Euro).

In the second half of 2009 the property market in Varna started to liven up as sellers started decreasing the prices and some very attractive offers appeared on the market. During the second half of 2009 sales already made up 40% of the total number of deals in the area, property sales in Varna rising three times in the second half of 2009.

Russian clients were extremely active as they traditionally like Varna and the region. There were British buyers as well as they mainly bought cheap rural properties. Bulgarian clients preferred to rent properties awaiting lucrative deals.

The average price of the apartments BULGARIAN PROPERTIES sold in Varna in 2009 is 83,300 Euro, which is 22.5% lower than the average price in 2008 (107,500 Euro). Meanwhile, the trend average prices in Varna to be higher than those in Sofia remains as the decrease in the average prices in both cities is similar.

SKI PROPERTIES

The average prices of the apartments sold in the resort of Bansko in 2009 is 38,700 Euro compared to the 66,000 Euro in 2008 the result being a 41% decrease on an annual basis. This is also a wonderful opportunity for Bulgarian buyers to buy holiday homes at a good price – about 650 Euro/sq.m. on average.

From the end of 2009 the resort of Pamporovo also offers prices from 500 Euro/sq.m. while the prices in Borovets have not decreased by more than 10-15% to an average of 1,400 Euro/sq.m. Due to the low interest in both resorts and the lack of actual deals in 2009 it is difficult to make a comparison to 2008.

PROPERTIES IN SEASIDE RESORTS

The average price of the purchased apartments in the southern Black Sea resorts in 2009 was 50,000 Euro while in 2008 it was 82,000 Euro – making the annual decrease 40%. The average prices of the apartments sold in the area of Sunny Beach in 2009 was 660 Euro/sq.m. and in Sveti Vlas – about 1,000 Euro/sq.m.

In Sozopol prices remained higher compared to those in Sunny Beach and the surrounding areas which is the reason for the lower interest. The average price of the apartments sold in Sozopol was 1,100 Euro/sq.m.

In Golden Sands the apartments in developments with a unique location were sold at a price similar to that in 2008 - about 2,200 Euro/sq.m. Properties set further from the beach in the resort were sold at prices from 700 to 1,400 Euro/sq.m.

RURAL PROPERTIES

For the first time in years the prices of rural properties started to decrease as early as in the beginning of 2009, i.e. they reacted very fast to the change in the economic situation and to the crisis.

In the last few years rural property prices increased at a stable rate as even in 2008 their average price went up by 24% compared to 2007 despite the decreased sales volumes by 43.5% in 2008 compared to 2007. But the crisis did not bypass this segment in 2009 and their prices fell by over 50% on an annual base returning to the levels from 2004-2005.

The analyses of BULGARIAN PROPERTIES for 2009 showed as early as in March 2009 that the decrease in the average prices of rural properties is 40% compared to the average levels in 2008 and the decrease in the number of deals continued until the end of April and reached 55% compared to the same period in 2008. The month of May 2009 brought change to the property market and it became more dynamic thanks to the lower prices, as this was also felt in the rural property segment. From May to August the average prices of realized deals continued to fall and decreased by an additional 33% compared to the period January-April 2009 while the number of concluded deals increased by 35% compared to that period.

In 2009 the decrease in the number of sales of rural properties amounts to 41% compared to 2008 (after a decrease of 43.5% in 2008 compared to 2007). The average price of rural properties decreased from 30,800 Euro in 2008 to 14,300 Euro in 2009 which is a fall of 53.5%.

It is exactly the low prices that revived the interest of the buyers in cheap rural properties. However, this time it is not only the British who are interested in buying a rural property but also a lot of Bulgarians, Russians, as well as people from many other various nationalities.

The decrease in the average number of sold rural properties is different in the different regions around the country. The greatest decrease is in the villages around Sofia, Varna, Bourgas, Kardzhali, Vidin and Montana – these are areas where the prices had increased considerably in the last few years. There is a decrease even in the area of Veliko Tarnovo which traditionally is an attractive place for buying a rural property. Exceptions from the general trend are only the rural properties around the towns of Plovdiv and Stara Zagora where the decrease is very small compared to that in the other regions. This is due to the fact that sellers in those areas were not inclined to reduce the prices of their property the result being very few deals there. Another reason is the fact that in these areas there is a market for more quality and expensive rural properties for permanent living.

1. Average prices of rural properties in 2009* and decrease compared to 2008*

• Villages around Sofia – 19,250 Euro -35%
• Regions of Varna and Dobrich – 14,800 Euro -53%
• Bourgas Region – 19,700 Euro -32%
• Plovdiv Region – 16,200 Euro -6%
• Stara Zagora Region – 13,500 Euro 0%
• Vidin Region – 7,000 Euro -44%
• Veliko Tarnovo Region – 11,525 Euro -19%
• Yambol Region – 12,900 Euro -21%
• Kardzhali Region – 11,300 Euro -58%
• Montana Region – 4,800 Euro -39%
• Pleven Region – 4,800 Euro -28%
*Average prices for 2008 and 2009 calculated on the basis of actually concluded deals with clients of BULGARIAN PROPERTIES

In short, the statistics shows the following:
Average price of the concluded deals with rural properties in 2009: 14,300 Euro
Decrease compared to 2008: -53,5%
Decrease in the number of concluded deals with rural properties in 2009 compared to 2008: -41%

2. Change in the average price of rural properties through the years:

Average price and change compared to the previous year:

• 2004 – 11,300 Euro
• 2005 – 15,450 Euro +37%
• 2006 – 18,510 Euro +20%
• 2007 – 24,800 Euro +34%
• 2008 – 30,800 Euro +24%
• 2009 – 14,300 Euro -53.5%

BUYERS AS PER NATIONALITY

25% of the sales of BULGARIAN PROPERTIES are with Bulgarian buyers – they bought properties mainly in Sofia, but also in Varna, Bansko, Plovdiv and Sunny Beach.

75% of the sales of BULGARIAN PROPERTIES are concluded with foreign clients. The biggest group is that of the British buyers who make up 45% of all foreign clients – in 2009 they bought mainly cheap rural properties. Their share increased from 30% to 45% after the prices decreased. 25% of the foreign buyers are Russians and 5% are Russian-speaking clients from other countries – they bought properties mainly in the seaside resorts but were also very active in Bansko. In the second half of 2009 the share of Greek clients increased as they were 5% of all foreign buyers – for now they are mainly interested in Bansko, but also in some rural properties. The other foreign buyers (a total of 20% of all foreign buyers) are from various countries from around the world – France, Italy, Malta, Cyprus, Slovakia, Norway, Syria, the Republic of South Africa, UAE, the USA and many other.

FORECAST OF BULGARIAN PROPERTIES FOR 2010

The real estate market follows directly the country’s economic development and when the economy starts coming out of the crisis the real estate market will start recovering as well. As a large part of the property deals are concluded with financing from outside sources – foreign buyers, Bulgarians living abroad, etc. it is possible that the recovery of the property market will outpace the real economic recovery by a few months.

We are to expect at least six more months of correction of the market prices and of few deals. Offer prices will continue to be corrected so they would reach the levels of the actual concluded deals, as this is a market mechanism of self-regulation. The sooner property prices reach their actual market levels the sooner will the number of deals increase. The recovery of the market will be felt first in the increase in the number of deals, mainly with quality properties in Sofia and Varna and after that property prices will start increasing. We cannot talk of a price increase in the next year or so but when that happens prices will go up gradually, commensurable with the increase of the country’s GNP.

In short, in 2010 the market will have to finish the process of self-regulation and market price formation after which around the middle of the year we might witness a gradual increase in the number of concluded deals.

It is important to underscore that one mustn’t think that the property market in Bulgaria has collapsed. On the contrary, it is undergoing a specific development phase, the mistakes that were made during the fast growth in the last few years are being corrected and the trends follow the general economic situation not only in Bulgaria but in the world. At present the market is calm and offers good possibilities due to the more sensible prices and the big supply of quality properties. Everyone who is interested and has the means to buy a property can do so in an informed and unrushed way.

---
Copyright: 2010 Bulgarian Properties Ltd. All rights reserved. For further information or advice please contact us on tel: +359 2 9 11 50 or e-mail: info@bulgarianproperties.com. The use of this article by third parties is allowed only with proper quotations of the source www.BulgarianProperties.com and the Author of the article. The data in this material has been collected by the Author and Bulgarian Properties Ltd. and is presented for information purposes only. We have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the data. However, Bulgarian Properties Ltd. cannot be held responsible for loss or damage as a result of decisions made based on this article.
© Bulgarian Properties Ltd. 2010.

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