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20.12.2006 BULGARIA PROPERTY MARKET ENTERSFRENZIED STRETCH TO YEAR-END

Dnevnik a.m.

The number of property transactions has increased 2 to 4 times in December in comparison with previous years, Dnevnik learned from notaries and real estate brokers.
The business surge spans the whole range of real estate segments from residential to undeveloped land.

According to realtors surveyed by Dnevnik, the uptick in property transactions is due to the upcoming increase in tax valuations and notary charges, the uncertainty concerning the designation of protected sites under the Natura 2000 program and the delisting of properties in anticipation of a price bump after Bulgaria's EU entry.

2006 is headed for a record number of property transactions at over 280,000 said manager of a real estate agency. Bulgaria's Registry Agency recorded 240,000 property transactions in 2005.

Property valuations for tax purposes are expected to increase by 20% on average in 2007 but the upward revision could be even higher in some regions depending on the local authorities.

Bulgaria will also introduce VAT on transactions with land properties from 2007.
Land prices in Bansko, Razlog and Dobrinishte are rising by the day. Domestic property prices added 15% on average in 2006. This data is backed up by a market overview released by local think-tank Industry Watch.

The local realtors are convinced there will be no sharp jump in property prices after January 1. They expect the market to post a price gain of 10% next year.

The National Real Property Association (NRPA) said in November that some 5 mln sq m of housing estates will be placed on the market in 2007 which breaks down to 20,000 new homes with an average size of 100 sq m. Some 17,000-18,000 new homes are transacted annually in Bulgaria, NRPA chairman Orlin Vladikov said at the time, adding that the developers will struggle to find takers for close to 5,000 new homes.

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