ARTICLES 
Swopping notes for real estate
Article by Ivan Vatahov, The Sofia Echo, 25 Feb - 4 March 2005

RECENT estimates show that real estate prices in Bulgaria are continuing to grow, having increased by 24.8 per cent in the period January 2004 to January 2005.
This can be seen in the most recent value of the real estate price index REMI. The index stood at 152.8 points in January 2005, or by 9.4 points higher than in October 2004. This corresponds to a 6.6 per cent price increase for that period.
The index is formed by the prices of residential property, commercial property and land. Residential real estate deals totalled about 66 per cent of all property deals in Bulgaria for November 2004 January 2005.
The prices of recently built apartments are increasing more intensively because of the higher price of land and building materials. Office space deals are not registering significant growth. Office real estate deals are mainly rental contracts.
The REMI index was introduced in Bulgaria in September 2002 by the National Real Estate Association (NREA) with the support of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria.

The boom in the construction of apartment buildings which began about two years ago will persist until the countrys EU accession, fuelled by easy access to bank loans and expectations that housing units will continue to appreciate. Another factor, except for the compensatory notes, feeding the market are the cash inflows from Bulgarians living and working abroad that are being spent on real estate in Bulgaria.

Among the revelations made by property brokers in the past month was that developing Bulgarian and foreign companies seek to buy or rent buildings offering at the same time storage, commercial and office space.
This latest trend on the real estate market in Bulgaria has already been followed by the cosmetic maker Oriflame, stationery supplier Office One Superstore and Metro Cash&Carry.
Currently, the storage facilities and the headquarters of international companies operating in Bulgaria are dislocated, which creates a major inconvenience and multifunctional buildings are most in demand.

Investors either hire contractors to build such multifunctional buildings entirely for the company needs, or rent similar buildings on a long-term basis, real estate experts said.

Apart from the strong demand in multifunctional buildings there is also a strong investors interest in buying and renting storage facilities. The average selling price of storage facilities in Sofia, was 332 euro for a square metre in January 2005 against 295 euro in June 2004.

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