Profit.bg: His Company Is Selling 100,000 Properties in Bulgaria
Mihail Chobanov is the founder and owner of BULGARIAN PROPERTIES, a leading real estate agency in the country and the first technology property company in Bulgaria. He is also a construction entrepreneur with completed emblematic residential complexes in Sofia and vacation complexes in the beach and ski resorts in the country.
He doesn’t give interviews frequently, yet he accepted a conversation with Profit.bg.
See what Chobanov shared about the company's history, housing trends, property searches today and who are the leading foreign buyers in the country.
"We started 15 years ago, we were in a room on Alabin Street," he remembers the agency's launch. "We felt the emergence of the foreign market and we used it in the best possible way."
The First Deal
An English client bought from us 5 apartments in the very center of Bansko. The complex was at construction stage, ie. it can be said that my first deal was "off-plan".
The received commission was reinvested - I bought a laptop and a second-hand car and I headed to the sea to develop my business.
By the end of the summer I had already made 300 deals and we had 15 offices across the country.
"Less than a year after we launched our business, we had our own account manager from Google who worked for us, that was our big breakthrough that we made at the time of the first technology revolution in the real estate business - our positioning on the Internet.
In 2005, a Google vice president, responsible for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, came to Bulgaria.
He gave a press conference in Bulgaria and when asked if there was an Internet business in Bulgaria, he answered - BULGARIAN PROPERTIES, which was a great recognition of such a level. Then, Google was everything, "Chobanov says.
Every year, customers from about 50 nationalities buy property from us. Over the years, our clients have been from over 100 countries. This is a huge mission to popularize Bulgaria all over the world, he added.
The First Year
In the first year in which we were doing business, we were already touring Europe at seminars and exhibitions. When going to a specific city, we saw that the halls were full, says the founder of BULGARIAN PROPERTIES.
The interest was greater than we could handle.
A year after the creation of the company, we had over 30 offices across the country, and then the whole market was ours, he remembers.
We became extremely popular in the UK and Ireland, we were interviewed by the biggest British media, we participated in the filming of TV shows and productions.
We've been through a lot of things for these 15 years, and one of the reasons we're here is that, right from the start, we were fortunate to create a great team.
Victor and Polina are with us from the first day. Then, they were young students, and today - 15 years later, they are partners in the company.
Victor is Operations Director, and Polina - Managing Director. We try to preserve the atmosphere and the feeling of family and family business.
Over the years
"Business has evolved over the years - from a leader on the English and Irish markets, we've always been on top of the wave and we've been trying to find the next market to develop, which helped us even in the difficult years of building the business," Chobanov says.
We felt the emergence of the Polish market and we used it the best in 2006/2007. Then there were strong impulses in many countries - Slovakia, Belgium, the Netherlands, which we also used to the best of our ability.
At the time when the financial crisis began, we were extremely well represented in Russia. Since 2005, we had an office in the country and we went to exhibitions. When in 2008/2009 the English market - about 90% of our customers - fell to the freezing point - to zero, then we were very strong on the Russian market and we redirected our whole business there.
The Market in Bulgaria
Our company was targeted as a real estate company mainly for foreigners, we learned how to do business at an European level and subsequently positioned ourselves on the Bulgarian market as well. Since 2007 we have been active among the Bulgarian buyers and to date we have a very good balance of the transactions we make.
If we take for example Sofia, we are very proud of the mix of clients we have. Some of the clients are from Sofia, others - from the province, third - foreigners and fourth are Bulgarians living abroad.
Bulgarians are the most active buyers on the market today, but foreign buyers dominate our offices in Bansko and Sunny Beach.
What are people looking for today?
Buyers realize what they want. They are willing to pay the price when their expectations meet with the quality of the product, which is extremely important.
Let me give an example with Vitosha View. At its launch, the prices in the neighborhood were at about 800-850 Euro per sq.m. The typical new construction was a simple building, with window frames, etc., or else said, much of what surrounds us.
We have decided that this is not the product we want to offer to our customers and not what we want to leave behind as a mark.
We went to a completely different project class - with a suspended façade, 8-person-lifts, where 2 children's pushchairs could be comfortably accommodated, French windows, three-layer glazing in the window frames, the pre-built air-conditioning pipes could hide permanently the outside air conditioners on the buildings.
Customers are intelligent. When the product on the market brings the relevant qualities and guarantees with itself, the Bulgarian is ready to pay for it.
The times when the words “Sofia” and “new construction” were sufficient, are gone by. There is a list of criteria, requirements and expectations that buyers have to be offered on the market.
Even when we talk about the middle and low class of new construction, there are already certain standards that are set as mandatory.
The market in one sentence: dynamic, interesting, even more beautiful and durable, says Chobanov. According to him, most clients are looking for a home in a southern neighborhood, up to 70,000 Euro for one bedroom and up to 100,000 Euro for a two-bedroom apartment.
Find the latest offers in Sofia
Last Year' Deals
About 60% of the deals today in Sofia are with properties of new development. In Plovdiv, more and more new properties are purchased, while with the holiday homes the deals are on the secondary market.
We add 20 nationalities per month and a total of 50 per year for the country. For 2017, we have the most deals with buyers from the UK, Russia, Greece, Germany, Ukraine, Italy, the Netherlands and others.
The most preferred neighborhoods in Sofia nowadays
Southern quarters are the most preferred by the customers in the recent years. The main reason is the general infrastructure.
There are the three main boulevards, coming out of the center - Bulgaria Blvd, Cherni Vrah Blvd and Simeonovsko shose Blvd., along with the established South Tangent.
The second reason is the immediate proximity to the mountain.
It is very simple to see which will be the next most demanded neighborhoods in Sofia with a rapid development. Anyone can open Google Maps and see where the regions with free undeveloped areas are.
In this line of thought, the left part of Krastova Vada district has great potential, as well as the districts Vitosha and Malinova Dolina where there are many undeveloped areas.
The business is ahead of the municipality and once again we are giving the example of Krastova Vada district where we have talks with schools, kindergartens and supermarkets to be present in these neighborhoods.
The municipality is trying to help, a new kindergarten is being built in the area, says Chobanov.
Low interest rates
That's 50% of what's happening right now. "My home, my fortress" is key for the Bulgarian citizen.
Low-interest rates mean greater accessibility, and higher property prices are determined both by the constantly increasing regulatory requirements for securing the sites and by the overall development of the projects themselves.
The properties are divided into two types - those that are bought for living and investment properties that have several subspecies. One is a purchase for children who are not grown enough to use them at the moment.
There are clients who buy properties to rent out, but have the idea of returning to live in it in the future (from the province or abroad).
The return on investment property in Sofia today is about 5%, says Chobanov, but adds that this is true if the property is purchased with own funds and after deduction of all costs.
There are also clients who purchase first property with their own money, opt for a mortgage and then buy a second or a third for renting it out.
Bulgarians are usually looking for a property between 20 and 30,000 Euro in the beach areas. Among their other wishes, the home is often furnished and comes with a low maintenance fee.
Attractive selection of properties in Sunny Beach and the neighboring resorts
BULGARIAN PROPERTIES today
Today, BULGARIAN PROPERTIES is one of the leading agencies in Bulgaria. The company is constantly developing and offering a full range of properties in Sofia and the whole country, operating in all segments of the real estate market - new construction and second-hand property in the big cities, holiday properties in the sea and the ski resorts, luxury properties, plots, building plots, country houses, farmlands and many others.
The company is extremely successful in the sale of new-build properties, being a trusted partner of respected developers due to the excellent combination of the experience of the developer Mihail Chobanov, the successful agency and the great sales experience.
On the occasion of its 15th anniversary, the company has put its first site live. There it can be seen what property prices were back in 2003. The properties in the capital of Sofia are priced at about $300 per sq.m., and the dwellings in the center of the city are available at levels of about $500 per sq.m. can be seen.
Chobanov also says that for the past 15 years, the company has offered 100,000 properties. Even a little bit more.
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Attractive selection of properties in Ski resorts in Bulgaria
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