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14.12.2016 Polina Stoykova: 2016 is extremely dynamic year for Bulgarian real estate market

2016 has been a very dynamic year for Bulgarian real estate market and for the first time in many years the trend has been entirely positive. Growth has been witnessed in sales and prices, as this growth in Sofia reaches two-digit numbers, Executive Director of Bulgarian Properties Polina Stoykova told Radio Bulgaria. These days, analysts have been observing a more mature market, dominated by domestic demand and by factors such as migration to big cities, rising incomes and very favourable conditions for mortgage lending, Stoykova said and added:

"In 2016 demand focused mostly on residential housing, predominantly in big cities. Sofia is leader in sales, but it should be pointed out that in Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas and Stara Zagora trends are positive too with sales growth reaching between 5% and 10%. Real estate prices marked almost the same growth. In Sofia the market ends the year with a 12-percent price rise, which is double the rise marked in the previous year. Furthermore, buyers have been looking for making investments in real estate and receiving rent. I must say that this year there is a trend of high demand in the segment of holiday homes. Currently, about half of the purchases of vacation homes at the seaside and in ski resorts are made by Bulgarians and before that this market used to be mainly dominated by foreigners."

According to Polina Stoykova, low interest rates on bank deposits that are close to zero, also encourage people to invest in real estate. This has a strong impact on the purchase of residential property including buying in pre-construction phase, which has been a rising trend in 2016. Currently, people have been cautious when making such investments, but are willing to take risks after checking the builders history and signing more reliable contracts:

"Of course there is always a risk when making a purchase in early stages of construction, but people are more willing to take this risk because currently demand is higher than the supply. Demand in 2016 has marked a serious growth. While people were still wondering if prices would fall and how the market would develop it suddenly became clear that the market was rising. As a result, buyers have returned to it."

In the past, many construction companies provided buyers in pre-construction phase with a discount that was because of the risk. Currently, however, this rule does not apply, Polina Stoykova says and adds:

"In fact, buying in initial stage of construction is up to 80-100 euros per square meter more expensive than the price of new homes sold on the secondary market. This is because supply was very limited in recent years and because new projects are of better quality. Builders use higher-quality materials and buyers are willing to pay these higher prices."

"Demand for prefabricated panel block housing remains stable and the market potential of this type of property is good, especially after the start of a national renovation program. On the other hand, there was no increase in purchases of homes in underdeveloped regions such as north-western Bulgaria. In smaller cities of the country prices remained unchanged, and in some cities they even declined. This is normal because real estate market follows demographic trends and economic developments, Polina Stoykova says in conclusion.

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