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August 2006, 04/08/2006

Dear Valued Stara Planina Properties Client,

The August Newsletter is with you today. It concentrates on the market of buildable land in Bulgaria and will tell you some news related to visa regime and travel to Bulgaria. We hope you find the information interesting and useful.

Buying Land in Bulgaria

Over the past 5 years the vast majority of our clients have been buying properties however recently we have been noticing an increase in clients seeking simply to buy plots of land. As an investment option it is attractive since price increases in this sector have not been as great as in the property sector but this situation is gradually changing. For investors the attraction is that land entails lower maintenance than built properties and the entry level for purchase is generally lower than other properties. In many ways however the investment is more speculative especially when clients are considering buying plots that are in unregulated locations.

Land in Bulgaria is essentially divided between regulated and unregulated. Regulated basically means the land can be developed subject to planning permission. These plots are located within an existing city/town/village boundary and are generally serviced by water and electricity. Unregulated land is everything outside this and encompasses agricultural and forested lands. Where these two classes of land meet is where great interest lies with speculators since unregulated land is generally cheaper than regulated land in that location and there is the prospect that at some future stage the land can be regulated resulting in increased value.

Whilst speculating on unregulated land offers the greatest potential returns the risks remain higher than buying regulated land and we generally advice clients to consider regulated land that in principle is easier to develop and is serviced by water and electricity.

The market in Sofia is the most established one as it has attracted investors' interest for many years. The land prices in central Sofia vary a lot depending mainly on how many floors can be build on the particular plot. There are plots being offered between 800 and 2000 Euro per sq m and even more. As in all big cities it is hard to find land for sale in the most central locations so often a developer would purchase an old building with the idea to demolish and construct extended building and more floors. In the quarters which are away from the city centre the prices depend mostly on the transport links with central Sofia, how prestigious the quarter is and how many floors are foreseen for the plot.

The regulated land in the most popular ski resort of Bansko is priced between 200 and 500 Euro per sq m and agricultural land just next to the resort foreseen for conversion into regulated land normally costs between 50 and 150 Euro per sq m. In the neighbour village of Dobrinishte (6 km from Bansko) the land prices vary between 50 and 75 Euro per sq m. There are several attractive villages near the ski resort of Borovetz. Gorna Vassilitza is 25 minutes drive from Bororvetz and the land prices are 10-12 Euro per sq m. The village of Dolna Banya is 20 minutes from Borovetz and next to a new golf course. Land can be purchased there between 10 and 20 Euro per sq m. Raduil is the closest in the cluster of villages just 10 minutes from the resort and the land costs 25-30 Euro per sq m. Near Pamporovo there are offers for land plots in the village of Momchilovtzi priced 20-30 Euro per sq m.

The sizes of the plots in the above locations are usually 1000-2000 sq m. The plots are smaller by rule in Pamporovo area and often are situated on slopes which sometimes makes them not suitable for any building so we recommend a geological survey prior to a deal.

The Black Sea coast is also of interest for land purchases. Trakata is one of the popular areas (5 km from Varna and 3 km from the nearest beaches) with land prices between 40 and 80 Euro per sq m. However the area is already quite overbuilt. Here is one example of similar plot. Some villages in close proximity to nice sandy beaches also attract those wishing to invest in land plots along the coast. In General Kantardgievo (4 km from the beaches of Kranevo on the North coast) there are plots for sale for 35-60 Euro/sq m such as this plot. Less expensive are the plots in the villages of Bliznatsi (25 km from Varna and 7 km from the nearest beaches) and Kalimantsi (17 km from Varna). Land prices in both vary between 20 and 50 Euro per sq m. The small town of Byala becomes one of the new popular resorts and the land there costs 55-100 Euro per sq m (this is such an offer).

Examples of popular locations for purchase of land to be developed along the South Black Sea coast are the villages of Kosharica (6 km from the Sunny Beach resort) and Tankovo (7 km from Sunny Beach). The lowest prices for land deals are around 40 Euro per sq m but some plots are offered at 140 Euro per sq m. Sunny Beach resort is extending in the direction of Kosharitsa, which is the next hot spot. The land prices vary from 90 to 150 Euro per sq m and it is difficult to find large plots. The regulated land prices in Sozopol are between 110 and 150 Euro per sq m. Plots which are purchased with the idea to be converted into regulated land in Tankovo are priced between 15 and 18 Euro per sq m. Most plots are sized between 1,000 and 4,000 sq m but one could find offers for larger plots as well.

The land in the smaller cities and towns also attracts investors especially where there is considerable demand for residential apartments. Land prices in cities such as Veliko Turnovo and Rousse vary between 200 and 450 Euro per sq m in the central parts and 50-400 Euro per sq m in the living quarters. In the less popular small cities and towns the land prices of centrally located plots are as low as 10-30 Euro per sq m.

Picturesque rural locations away from the main resort areas also attract land investors. The most attractive villages in Rousse region are located in Natural Park Roussenski Lom. One can purchase land for prices between 3 and 10 Euro per sq m in the most popular villages of Bozhichen, Cherven and Tabachka (this property just over a decar or this 1,400 sq m plot).

The prices of regulated land in the mountain villages south of Veliko Turnovo vary between 5 and 10 Euro per sq m (here is such an offer) but in other areas might be as low as 2-3 Euros per sq m (as in this case).

Of course purchasing just land is not always about investment and many clients opt for land so they can build their own property that suits all of their requirements. This is a good alternative to a renovation project. Cost for new built vary but as a rule of thumb for coastal properties consider 450 Euro per meter square and 350 Euro per meter square away from the coastline.

When buying land you should consider the following:

  • If you decide to purchase land which is not B regulated you have to ask your agent to study carefully the plot situation prior to purchase in order to be confident if it is possible to change the status of the land as it would be of prime importance for the value of the property.
  • Your agent should check if there is water and electricity provided for the plot. Otherwise you may face high expenses which might make your project not feasible.
  • It should be checked what is the road access to the plot.

EU Citizens will Need Only a Valid ID Card or Passport to Stay in Bulgaria up to Three Months

Citizens of EU member states will be allowed to cross Bulgaria’s borders with a valid ID card or passport only when their stay does not exceed 3 months. This is regulated in a draft of a law proposed by the government upon EU entry. The law regulates the rules and procedures for EU citizens and members of their families to use their right of free movement and stay in EU member states.

The document regulates the types and periods of stay: short-term – up to 3 months; long-term – from 3 months to 5 years; and permanent – over 5 years. In case of a short-term stay, EU nationals need only an ID card or a passport. In order to stay for more than 3 months in the country, they have to acquire a long-stay certificate issued by the National Police Service and to be hired or self-employed in Bulgaria; to prove they have sufficient finances to cover their expenses or to be enrolled in legitimate educational establishments. The long-stay application form has to be filed at the National Police Service within 4 months of the arrival date. The permission should be issued on the same day and is valid for an indefinite period of time.

According to the present regime British citizens have to apply for a visa in a Bulgarian Embassy abroad if they wish to stay in the country for more than 30 days within each 6-month period.

British Airways Annonced Year-Round Cheap Flights from London to Varna reported that British Airways would offer year-round cheap flights from London Gatwick Airport to Bulgaria’s coastal city of Varna. The destination was opened in March 2006 and during the winter the company would offer flights on Thursdays and Sundays.

Since the autumn a new tariff would be enforced. Starting September 11 the one-way ticket from Varna to London would cost 11 euro, airport tax not included. The roundtrip costs 38 euro.

Gary Player Visits the Black Sea Rama Golf Cource to Grant His Approval for the Construction Works Carried Out

The famous golf champion Gary Player visited the town of Balchik last week. He designed the Black Sea Rama golf course and visited the site to grant his approval for the building progress of the project. The 18-holes golf course will cover over 200 acres of land. Nine of the holes are already finished. In September they will be grassed. Gary Player also gave a press conference expressing his satisfaction with the development and all the Black Sea shore at Balchik.

The Black Sea Rama Golf Course is being built on a plateau near the town of Balchik. The terrain is sloping which makes it perfect for a golf course project. Golfers will enjoy the beautiful views towards Cape Kaliakra. The complex will meet the best international golf standards. The official opening is set for May 2007.

Golden Valley and Marina are two developments near the golf cource.

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