What happened to Bulgaria's property boom?

The number of Britons living in Bulgaria has doubled in the past year, but property prices have not. Why has the market failed to live up to the hype?

The number of Britons living in Bulgaria has doubled in the last year, but, as The Guardian points out, property prices there have not. Back in May this year, when MoneyWeek last looked at Bulgaria, there wasn't a bearish voice in the market. Depending on who you listened to, the market was going to rise by anywhere from 31%-147% within the year; the whole region was in an unprecedented state of property madness. We weren't convinced largely because however much we thought about it, we couldn't see any good reason why anyone would want to live or go skiing in Bulgaria and it seems that our caution was justified.

According to property agents Assetz, things aren't going so well after all: instead, the rate of growth has slowed dramatically and "the days of instant gains appear to be over." They may never have existed, but certainly these days no one's making money in eastern Europe. Suspicions as to the virility of the Bulgarian market cropped up in the summer, when The Sunday Times revealed that landlords in the wildly touted Black Sea resorts were lucky to be receiving half of the 10% rental yield promised by property brochures. That was "if their properties are being let at all". But over in what the bullish estate agents like to call "eastern Europe's answer to Aspen," and what Stephen Wood in The Independent calls "grim" (the Bulgarian ski resort of Bansko), things are worse: prices have dropped 2.1% and tenants are thin on the ground.

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Jody Clarke

Jody studied at the University of Limerick and she has been a senior writer for MoneyWeek for more than 15 years. Jody is experienced in interviewing, for example in her time she has dug into the lives of an ex-M15 agent and quirky business owners who have made millions. Jody’s other areas of expertise include advice on funds, stocks and house prices.