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Sell-off lifeline offered to Irish owners of Bulgaria properties

By Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor Tuesday December 15 2009

AN Irish company is offering to buy out financially distressed owners of properties in Bulgaria.

Thousands of Irish buyers are being forced to walk away from Bulgarian properties they bought during the boom because they cannot meet loan repayments.

Now Dublin-based Appreciating Assets is providing them with a lifeline by offering to match up sellers with Russian buyers from across the Bulgarian border.

This newspaper reported last month that stretched owners of Bulgarian properties are walking away from their investments because they cannot afford to meet repayments.

Many of these people re-mortgaged their homes in Ireland to put down deposits on properties abroad.

Now that the apartments are nearing completion and they are being asked to pay the full amount, they are unable to raise the funds.

Foreign property lawyer Tom McGrath said his firm was now inundated with queries from people in financial trouble.

Yesterday, Dylan Cullen of Appreciated Assets said Russian buyers were plentiful in the Bulgarian market and many of them were likely to visit the country over the Christmas period.

Mr Cullen said: "Russia has a very robust economy that has not slipped into recession, so Russians are still holidaying abroad and still very active in the Bulgarian property market."

He said his company needs Irish property owners to send it details of their properties now so it can target Russian buyers while they are in Bulgaria over the holiday period.

It is estimated that between 50,000 and 100,000 Irish people bought properties in Bulgaria between 2000 and 2008. Property experts said many of these people had typically paid €120,000 for apartments that were worth €40,000.

With offices in Dublin and Sofia, Irish-owned Appreciating Assets Ltd has sold 200 properties in Bulgaria since the beginning of the year.

A spokesman for the company said sale prices were down between 40pc and 50pc from the property price peak.

- Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor