ARTICLES 
Balkan boom heralds
Article by Andrea Watson, Daily Express, Wednesday, 11th May 2005

When Bulgaria enters the European Union in 2007, the grey clouds of its communist past will be swept away as money pours in to develop the economy.

Years of state control have left terrible scars dirty streets, run-down transport and, not least, appalling concrete apartments blocks.
Drive past these high-rise slums in the capital, Sofia, and it is hard to believe that the city is expecting a property boom.

Prices for city flats have soared. New embassies, offices, conference centers and hotels are all under construction, and major international firms are moving into Sofia, bringing demand for rented accommodation.
British investor Rupert Ferard bought a two-bedroom flat in the diplomatic district of Sofia for 80 000 GBP and spend 20 000 GBP refurbishing it. He uses it as a base when staying in the country, where he is developing two resorts on the Black Sea.

Rupert says: A lot of people are looking at the Lozenets area of Sofia, where the new US Embassy is located.
They are tearing down the older type of communist high-rise apartments and building new blocks of flats.
Many are aimed at foreign investors who rent them to staff of corporates moving in here.

Rupert quotes prices of 800 Euro a square metre for city center flats or 60 000 - plus GBP for a one-bed apartment before refurbishment."

The National Library in Sofia


The region of Varna
He urges newcomers to make contact with the commercial department of the British Embassy before looking for a property. One Sofia agent who specializes in sales to British buyers is Mihail Chobanov. His company Bulgarian Properties recently featured in BBC programme on Bulgaria.

While investors will probably concentrate their research on Sofia, Bulgaria is peppered with other cities that present tempting alternatives.
Varna and Bourgas are on the Black Sea coast, near growing tourist resorts, such as Sunny Beach. Both have international airports, and when Bulgaria enters the EU, it is likely there will be direct flights all year.
Varna is an attractive city, with some wide tree-lined boulevards in the historic district surrounding the Cathedral of the Assumption.

You will find cobbled streets, fine apartment blocks and crumbling old mansions crying out for restoration.
Here, Black Sea development has boosted demand for properties.

To the south, Bourgas is another large city well sited for the coastal resorts.

Another investor, Mr. Hall, has been researching the market for city apartments in the Black Sea and plans to buy something that he can rent out and use himself as well.


The city of Bourgas


Bourgas
Many of the buildings are grey and peeling. They need a thorough overhaul, but the money is not there at the moment to make these improvements, he said.

In the longer term, he believes that investment in Bulgaria is safe but he admits that there is plenty of work to be done.

Information: Bulgarian Properties +359 2 980 0508

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