Bulgaria

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Dylan Cullen, the Irish property dealer who operates appreciatingassets.ie, is hoping to buy the overseas investments and second homes of Brits who have been hit by the recession. Cullen hopes to be one of the few involved in the Irish property market who emerges better off after the country’s disastrous property crash.  In addition, he hopes to lure other Irish people back into their own property market. His plan is to sell Brits’ second homes or buy-to-lets in Bulgaria to newly minted Russian millionaires and leave the sellers in a position to reenter Ireland’s now rock-bottom property market with the proceeds.

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Bulgaria

balchik-bulgaria Many foreigners who bought property in Bulgaria during the boom in 2008 are — in many cases unknowingly — at risk of losing their property. As foreigners can’t buy land, or property with land (including houses, villas, and even some apartments) in Bulgaria in their own name, it is common for foreigners to register a Bulgarian company and buy property through that.

But what many people don’t know is that under Bulgarian commercial law such companies must re-register every 2 years. Any company that doesn’t re-register is removed from the Bulgarian Registry and put into liquidation.

Bríd Doherty of DG International Tax warns that if those who bought in 2008 don’t do so before December 31st they will lose their property or properties as the company is stripped of its assets, and they will also be required to pay the administrative costs of the liquidation. Sickened.

According to Tzvetanka McFadden, a Bulgarian who runs Imoti Bulgarian Properties in Dublin, concern is mounting that many could fail to meet the deadline. For further information contact Imoti Bulgarian Properties at info@ibp.ie or DG International Tax on info@dgitax.com

Photo credits: KLMircea via Flickr

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house in bulgaria

house-in-bulgaria Bulgarian property was a dream almost too good to be true for thousands of Brits during the recent overseas property boom. Unfortunately for some of them Bulgaria’s corruption turned it into a nightmare.

Meet Duncan Banbury, who is nearing the final stages of a Varna District Court case, which could see him lose his BGN 500,000 luxury villa in Bulgaria after a 3 year legal battle, on a claim that has already been proven to be criminal. Bemused? Welcome to the Bulgarian legal world.

Expert plumber and heating engineer Banbury, from St Albans near the UK capital London, came to Bulgaria with his partner in 2004, to move into their new luxury villa and enjoy a good retirement.

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The much talked about Bulgarian Black Sea Gardens project has been frozen by UK investment firm Madara Bulgarian Property Fund Limited, a company listed on the London Stock Exchange. The project, reportedly worth  EUR 1 billion lacks funds and is seeking investors to help boost the conditions to resume work.

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For prospective property buyers, the beauty and mystique of an exotic locale may seduce, but beyond the poetry of a landscape, there can be many practical complications for buyers like Rachel Gawith, who put down a deposit on a property in Bansko, Bulgaria and wound up engaged in a legal dispute with the agent who sold her the property. Despite this and other setbacks, Gawith has created a substantial Bulgarian portfolio property and currently advises potential investors in Bulgaria about the same difficulties she confronted.

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Bulgaria

Investors should look carefully before putting money into Bulgarian property as prices in most areas have fallen for the first time – by more than 12% in some places, according to the latest Government statistics.

The biggest price rise for the last quarter of 2008 was just 3.7% recorded in the Montana, the provincial capital in north western Bulgaria.

The biggest losers in the same period were Veliko Tarnovo, Pleven and Targovishte, all recording losses of more than 12%.

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A recent survey conducted by Green Life Property Development, a Bulgarian hotel resort construction company reveals that Russian buyers have started to replace Brits and Irish buyers’ to being the predominant purchasers’ of new build Bulgarian resort/lifestyle properties. With Russians currently accounting for a 90 per cent chunk of all Bulgarian property purchases at the moment according to Green Life, other nationals bucking up the Bulgarian property buying trend are Scandinavian and Romanian buyers.

Their survey further categorises Russian buyers into two groups. The first group, the high net worth individuals (HNWIs), who are fully lifestyle buyers characterised by purchases of spacious penthouse apartments for 2nd home personal use only. And then the second group who seem to be replacing British and Irish buyers are the mid-range Russian buyers characterised by purchases of smaller apartments for rental or/and capital growth purposes.

With the buying frenzy of British & Irish buyers significantly subdued, the demand from Russian buyers appears to be the beacon of hope for Bulgarian developers desperately trying to shift their stock at the moment.

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Bansko Ski

The Global credit crunch is affecting even ski resorts now. Bansko, in Bulgaria, despite still being heavily marketed, is feeling the pinch also. Interest in the town dropped off severely in 2007, with prices for hotel rooms dropping, and occupancy down.

Also affected are property prices and with a lack of interest from UK buyers, Bansko is attempting to pull in investors from Russia, Spain and Greece instead. Presumably the Spanish like to head away from the horrible winter weather, much like the Brits.

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coffee

Coffee shop chain Starbucks is entering the Bulgarian market with plans to open its first shops there in 2008. The information was confirmed by DB Interconsult – Starbucks’ current consultant company in Bulgaria.

Starbucks will use Marinopoulos, the company which introduced French retailer Carrefour to the Bulgarian market, to introduce the brand. For now, Starbucks have set their sights on Sofia, but there is the possibility of expanding its chain in the bigger cities around Bulgaria. Currently Starbucks is looking for a team to run and develop the company in Bulgaria shop managers, HR managers, marketing specialists, real estate experts and a regional manager.

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On June 9th Guardian Unlimited carried a thought provoking article by Nikolai Chavdarov about the influx of UK investors in the property market of his native Bulgaria (A New Place in the Sun ). Taking as his starting point the results of the market survey by the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP) on where UK citizens are buying property abroad, which ranked Bulgaria third after Spain and France, he raises important questions about the country spoiled by indiscriminate development and, by inference, the soundness of the investments that property purchasers are making.

Although, as the AIPP says, the growth in interest in Bulgaria has been extraordinary, their survey is for one year only – 2006. Total direct overseas property investment by UK citizens they estimate to have been in the region of £20bn with Bulgaria receiving 7.7% of that or £1.54bn. It’s worth noting that Spain and France between them accounted for about 50% of the total level of investment. It’s also important to remember that both these countries have long been favourites for property investments by the British.

The significance of British interest in Bulgaria becomes starker when one considers the level of overall investment in Bulgarian property, which BulgarianProperty.com estimated at 5bn Euros in 2006. The proportion of this investment being made by UK citizens is indeed massive, especially when one considers that the number of households of UK citizens in Bulgaria only passed the one thousand mark last year.

On a positive note, there has been an encouraging increase in UK tourism to Bulgaria (up 12% last year on 2005 statistics with about 425,000 visitors). Another attractive feature of the Bulgarian property market has been good rental values in both the residential and commercial sectors. However, rental yields are likely to decline as property prices rise and it is also important to consider location and the quality of building work when gauging rental potential. In the future, the true health of the property market may be evidenced by a robust market in holiday lettings for better off Western Europeans.