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29.05.2014 Why property investors are flocking to Bulgaria, 21 May 2014

Since 2012, when Bulgaria lifted the five-year moratorium on land purchases, there has been a significant lift in interest from European investors. Despite the country's location on the outskirts of politically volatile Ukraine, experts predict that Bulgaria is very well-positioned to take advantage of the eventual European upturn.

Although far from recovered, the Bulgarian real estate market has certainly improved over the last year. The 1.21% decline in house prices across Bulgaria last year was the slowest since 2009 with only 3 of 28 provinces seeing an increase in property prices in 2013.

It is also noteworthy that the average house price in Bulgaria is now 39% below the 2008 pre-crisis peak, suggesting that there is plenty of room for growth over the longer term.

Bulgaria has one of the lowest European budget deficits and overall debt figures which leaves the government significant scope to invest in real estate, infrastructure and the overall economy as and when the time is right. For this reason, the country is now attracting interest from seasoned real estate investors with a keen eye for a lucrative investment.

Economists expect Bulgaria to expand by 1.8% during 2014 which, if achieved, would make the country one of Europe's stronger economies. Property transactions in the capital Sofia increased by 10% during 2013, mainly due to the lifting of the moratorium, and this trend looks likely to continue throughout the country.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski's government has been criticised for its lack of reforms although the country's stock exchange increased its turnover by an outstanding 124% with another stellar performance predicted for 2014.

Many experts believe that Bulgarias housing is seeing the bottom of the market and prices are likely to stabilise before increasing towards the end of the year in response to improved investor sentiment and increasing transaction volumes.

Property prices also remain low compared with properties in other European countries - in the region of 25% to 50% less for similar homes. Continued economic expansion in the coming years combined with hugely discounted property prices are attractive incentives for investors. Sales to European investors are expected to increase from 9% in 2013 to 15% in 2014 which will inevitably lead to an increase in prices.

Investors entering Bulgarian real estate at the current time will be buying into a market that already has a lot of value built in to it. With the prospect of economic recovery very clear on the horizon, investments are also underpinned by Bulgaria's expansion as a nation, reducing the risk and increasing the security of real estate purchases in the country.

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