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Bulgaria Favored For Real Estate Purchases

13 April 2010

Bulgaria was the country of choice for Russians buying real estate abroad in the first quarter, beating out warmer climes like Spain and Italy because of low prices and aggressive marketing, real estate agency DOKI said in a report.

It’s a title that Bulgaria has held for three years already. But while it used to be the destination of choice for middle-age Russians looking for vacation homes, Bulgaria is now turning into a haven for retirees looking for a cheap place to live away fr om Russian winters.

The aggressive advertising of Bulgarian property and comparatively cheap housing prices make the country extremely popular in Russia, said Alexander Pypin, head of analytical center and a contributor to the report.

"It’s possible to buy a good property by Russian standards for 30,000 euro there," he said.

The average Bulgarian property deal ran 39,000 euros (,000) during the first quarter, down 7 percent from last year’s figure.

Housing prices in Bulgaria dropped by 4.6 percent in the first three months of 2010 and by more than 28 percent since the beginning of the economic crisis, the report said.

The falling property prices have been great for Russians, who go to Bulgaria with lim ited budgets. The average Russian customer is looking to spend about 20,000 euros, said Stanislav Ryzhkov, a realtor with My BG Agent, a real estate agency headquartered in Varna, on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.

"This year, our clients from Russia are looking for cheap houses or apartments. About 90 percent of requests we get and deals we complete are in the price range of 15,000 to 30,000 euro," he said by telephone.

"One can buy a renovated house of 90 to 100 square meters with a parcel of land of 1,500 square meters for 15,000 euro," he said, adding that housing prices in Bulgaria are much lower than in other European countries like Germany and France.

In addition to the low prices, Russians buy houses in Bulgaria because of the friendly atmosphere.

Natalya, the owner of a small grocery store in Moscow, bought a house in Dabravino, a village 49 kilometers south of Varna, last year.

"Last year, my husband and I went there for a vacation for almost two months. This time, we plan to stay longer," said Natalya, 64, who asked not to give her last name.

Natalya said most of her neighbors spoke good Russian and were very friendly.

"Almost every morning when I went to the terrace I found a plate of tomatoes or grapes. Neighbors who had a good harvest had shared with us," she said.

Most Russians buying property in Bulgaria are 30 to 40 years old and visit the country on vacation for several weeks each year. Many of them lease their homes during the rest of the year, Ryzhkov said.

Despite the inexpensive property to be found in Bulgaria, many of the more typical Russian buyers are beginning to look elsewhere. According to the report, the Bulgarian real estate market lost more than 4 percent of its clients in the first quarter.

Bulgarian agents are putting their bets on a new type of client, however, which started arriving on the market late last year.

The new customers are retirees who buy houses in Bulgaria and take up permanent residence there because they are tired of Russian winters, Ryzhkov said.

Nevertheless, those looking for a good deal in Bulgaria should make sure that they know what they’re getting into before taking the plunge.

Many Russian customers who don’t know much about Bulgaria decide to buy real estate based on information provided by real estate agents, who give misleading information on the terms of the deals, said Pypin, of

Those who live in their houses for just two weeks a year have to pay high utility fees — higher than those in Moscow — for the entire year.

And if they decide later to resell their houses, they may have a hard time finding buyers.


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