Anyone who has bought property in Bulgaria will tell you that the prices are so low, it is impossible to lose, Matthew Brunwasser wrote in an article for International Herald Tribune. Prices will continue to rise. The only uncertainty is by how much. And how long, the article continues.
The Balkan country already has had 12 years of increases. And the National Statistical Institute reported in January that the average sales price per square meter for residential properties in Bulgarian cities had gone up 36.6 percent in the previous year.
But residential prices in Sofia still average only EUR 600, or USD717, per square meter. That is much less than the EUR 750 average per square meter in Bratislava, Slovakia; EUR 850 in Bucharest and EUR 1,500 in Prague, according to the National Real Property Association of Bulgaria.
Those numbers have pushed Bulgaria squarely into the real estate spotlight, attracting West Europeans lured by the current hot place for vacation homes and, to a lesser extent, for investment. And real estate agencies from small European countries like Ireland and Malta have opened offices in Bulgaria in an effort to expand their businesses.
Foreigners were involved in 23 percent of the 220,000 property deals registered in Bulgaria in 2005, transactions that totaled more than EUR 4 billion, according to the property association. The year before they generated 18 percent of all sales, or EUR 3.36 billion.
Overall, real estate is one of the fastest growing sectors in the national economy, which grew by 5.2 percent in 2005. Observers say that while the foreign interest certainly has not hurt, the country itself is producing much of the change.