(2009-Dec-05) « Back to all advice

Options available for Bulgarian property owners

If you are currently stuck with a Bulgarian property on your hands that you no longer want, or for one reason or another you can't complete on a property to which you committed some time ago, then there may be some festive good news in the air.



It may seem like a strange time in the strangest economic year seen in a lifetime to consider selling an overseas property but some people have no choice, they simply must get rid of what has become a considerable milestone around their necks. The financial strains inevitably brought by the Christmas period might just be final push property owners need to force them to consider selling their property in Bulgaria.

According to Dylan Cullen of Appreciating Assets, there is still a supply of Russian buyers in the Bulgarian market but, of course, it's nearly impossible for the average investor to reach them. Cullen has therefore stepped into this breach. Through his connections in Bulgaria and Russia he's extending a previous initiative aimed at buying beachfront property in coastal Bulgaria to include ski properties in the mountains.

For most Russians affluent enough to travel abroad Bulgaria is one of the first choices - it is easily accessible and relatively cheap. At only three hours flight from Moscow, and with Russian widely spoken, the former Communist country provides winter snow breaks for many Russians who spend Christmas and New Year away from home.

Wicklow-based Cullen has specialised in Bulgarian property for a number of years. He says he has experienced the popularity of Bulgaria as a winter holiday destination for Russians and knows the opportunities. Cullen says his aim is to provide an exit strategy for Bulgarian property investors by using the holiday period and ski season to seal deals with Russian property buyers.

Cullen says "Russia has a very robust economy, so Russians are still holidaying abroad and also very active in the Bulgarian property market." He says the IMF has forecast that by 2013 Russia will be the largest economy in Europe in terms of purchasing power, making it one of the world's fastest growing economies.

Christmas has become a large holiday for Russians since the fall of the Iron Curtain as its celebration was not allowed under the Communist regime. Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January 7, so the New Year onward is the most popular time of the year for winter breaks. Cullen says he needs property owners to send on details of their properties now for consideration and promotion to Russian buyers while they are in Bulgaria over the holiday period.

According to Cullen the big problem with the property market in Bulgaria is that buyers are mostly Russian and the sellers are mainly Irish or British; with no established second-hand resale market it is difficult for buyers to find sellers and vice versa. With offices in Dublin and Sofia, Cullen says he is attempting to address these issues by connecting Russian buyers to Irish property owners - this approach, he maintains, appears to be working, as he claims to have sold 200 properties since the beginning of the year.

It should be remembered, however, that the Bulgarian market is currently very depressed, so those currently in the position of having to sell their properties will not be able to achieve premium prices. The Appreciating Assets offer should only be seen as a safety valve for those willing to take a hit on an asset that they have to sell in what is, without doubt, the biggest buyer's market see in our lifetime.