This Bansko property guide is to assist you should you be interested in buying or selling property in the Bansko region. As mentioned in 2013 (Link), the Bansko property market was just lifting up from its lowest point. I spoke to Nikolay Zhelev from SkiApartmentsBulgaria.com and Cristian Zarnescu from PlusPropertybansko.com to gain the information here. You’ll read about the state of the Bansko real estate market as well as useful tips for both sellers and buyers.
Disclaimer and disclosure: The opinions in this article are not mine nor BanskoBlog’s. They do not constitute investment or financial advice. This is a sponsored article from Excel Property and Plus-Property.
What do Bansko apartments actually sell for?
Both Nikolay and Cristian agree that the market passed the bottom last year, and is growing slowly and steadily. Cristian suggested that “like for like asking prices for are up about 5% from same period last year. Average studio was €14,500, now it is around €15,500. Average one bedroom apartment was €24,000, now €26,000″.
Nikolay informed me “that the average price of actual closed transactions is around €380 per square metre, and that the average purchase price of properties in the resort is approximately €23,000″.
Cristian added that “the average price for units sold increased 15% to 20%, compared with twelve months ago. The main reason for this was due to higher net worth buyers, with bigger budgets, who bought larger and more luxurious apartments and houses. If this trend continues throughout 2016, it indicates a more confident mood to invest in Bansko property and its future”.
Where is the greatest interest for properties?
There was general agreement between Nikolay and Cristian in the respect that the greatest interest from buyers are apartments in complexes close to the gondola ski lift. Different people have different requirements from a ski apartment. For some, ski in and ski out is the most important consideration, or at least ease of access to lifts. For others, it may be a balcony, a view or proximity to restaurants and bars. If buyers choose a ski apartment in the area close to the gondola, they will find not only ease of access to lifts and slopes, but also lots of other entertainment and services on their doorstep.
Nikolay adds that “Properties around the gondola are also likely to be the easiest to rent out. Apartments in this area will cost a little more, but the advantages are undeniable.”
Cristian noted that, “recently there has been an increase in demand for two bedroom apartments, especially if they are finished and fully furnished”.
He also went on to explain that “the demand for small houses, with land, also increased. More land is been bought now, some for private build. Some medium sized plots are bought by small scale developers for the purpose of building three to five houses or even mini villages with eight to fifteen houses. Land is sought in Banya, Razlog as well as Bansko”.
The fall-out of the 2008 financial crisis can still be seen visibly via some unfinished buildings but also financially by the fact that many of the completed large hotels are owned by the banks. They are available for sale, whilst being under management and fully operational.
Many building works started in the last twelve months with some small and medium buildings now completed.
Within two to three years, only about ten large buildings will be left to be bought and then completed. Although in the last two years there’s been interest from major Arab and Indian investors, and although the investment figures were, I quote: “some of the best I have seen”, the purchases have not been completed. One to watch.
There has been increasing interest in a few large roof level unfinished projects from Chinese, Russian, and some international hotel chains. Once again, buyer interest has not moved to sales.
What other factors are there for buyers to consider?
There is a high interest in the well managed and properly maintained complexes. Look out for buildings that have used the condominium act and established a good process for managing the building.
Cristian advises buyers to “consider that a compromise can be made with the location, when there are good amenities. Facilities such as a spa centre, swimming pool, lobby bar and a restaurant can help enhance the vacation pleasure”.
Nikolay reports that, “on the Pirin Golf course area there are a lot of unfinished projects and a substantial oversupply of resale apartments. In this area, buyers can find furnished studio apartments for €10,000 to €12,000 in a complex that is open and working all year round. The Pirin Golf and Country Club itself offers smart properties, green spaces, tranquility and leisure activities. There are attractive new projects for luxury houses there. The interest in these houses from foreign investors has increased in the last twelve months”.
How many sales are there for Bansko property? Where do the buyers come from?
Both Nikolay and Cristian agree that the number of enquiries, and completed sales, has increased by 15%, compared to the same period last year. Cristian estimates that three hundred properties were sold in Bansko in the last twelve months. I have not been able to locate any official data from the municipality on the exact number of sales.
Nikolay adds that “There are fewer Russian buyers. The reasons are obvious; crisis in Ukraine, political instability in the country and the bankruptcy of many Russian tour operators. However, the last six months have seen an up swing of more Russian, Ukrainians and Israelis, with Russian origins.”
And both agent believe that British buyers make up approximately 40% of all property investors. The generally strong pound against the euro, and low UK interest rates, make Bansko especially attractive right now. On the other hand, there is increasing interest from Bulgarians who make up around 25% of buyers. We then have other buyers from Greece as well as the Ukraine and a small percentage of investors from other western European countries.
What tips would you give buyers?
Nikolay suggests that “first the process in buying a property abroad should not be rushed. Buyers should allocate plenty of time to research the market and to evaluate the agents in the market place. The buyer should work hard to find the right professional who will save their time, reduce stress and, potentially, money.
Buyers have to be realistic about the size of the property they need and ensure it fits their own holiday requirements. Buyers have to be clear about the maintenance fees that different properties involve and budget for maintenance before the purchase. Check what exactly is included in your maintenance fee. For example, is the fee for using all the facilities in the complex or only maintaining the common parts of the building?
The property purchase should be for the long-term and anticipating needs (for example a growing family — or a shrinking family) can help ensure long term satisfaction”.
What should buyers be looking for in their real estate agent?
Nikolay ads that “you should let the agent know what you expect from that relationship. Expect a home-buying education, not a scripted sales pitch. Competent buyer’s agents help their buyers to think clearly as the home-buying process unfolds.
Check out an agent’s listings online – Rightmove, Zoopla, and personal websites. Most buyers start their search on the internet, so make a little investigation of the agent you want to choose”.
I went back to Cristian for his comments on this question and he admitted “that trying to ascertain the trust level in an agent is hard. But you should start by asking around and exploring the local reputation of the agent”.
I will add my personal experience here and advise buyers to be especially disciplined. Use a check list and ask that everything discussed to be backed up by verifiable data and facts in writing.
And always pay for independent legal advice.
What is improving Bansko’s image?
Both agents feel that the image of Bulgaria is changing. This is a real change, boosted by EU funded projects for new infrastructure projects, roads and pavements. As I type this, Bansko is still a mess, with roads being dug up. But by the summer 2016 expect new pavements, resurfaced roads, the wires and cables moved underground, new parks and green areas. In short, Bansko town will start to look much smarter.
Cristian ads that “visitors often comment on the visible conspicuous consumption in Bansko. Expect to see premium brand motor cars, designer clothes and accessories. You’ll observe children’s playgrounds and families walking and kids playing. Modern hotels, with a good infrastructure, are making a big positive impression”… there’s even new investment in the lift system as I reported here last month.
He continues with this theme saying that “the municipalities of Bansko, and the Bulgarian Tourism department, have started promoting Bansko to more international shows in the UK, Russia, Turkey, Romania, Israel, Serbia. This is helping to promote the region”.
The National park directorate have completed quite a few projects, a new visitor center up from the Kempinski. There are new paths, BBQ areas and new signs.
I agree with the agents that Bansko town is becoming more and more appealing to property investors, holiday property buyers and for for relocation.
Tips For Sellers
Cristian suggested some tips
1. Do not accept the lowest valuation by just one agent. Search some property websites at sold section, find out what prices property sold in your area, start advertising at a slightly higher price, keep in mind the buyers always make a lower offer.
2. Do not accept a very low valuation. Keep a medium asking price for a while, and then adjust. Do not be afraid to ask more money if your apartment is unique apartment, nicely decorated, has a great location etc.
3. There are no listing fees. The market is not regulated, if your property is with one agent, it is not automatically with all the others. It is in your interest to advertise with at least three agents so to receive more exposure and more offers.
4. Check that your property is advertised at the correct asking price that you agreed with the estate agent.
5. Make sure your property is cleaned, window washed, small snags and repairs are completed. Make sure everything that should be working, actually is. It is worth investing money to make the apartment look good. Painting walls, hanging pictures, providing decent bed linen and covers and cushions all contribute to closing a sale. In short, the same basic rules for selling a property at home also apply equally in Bansko.
Tips for buyers
1. Appoint an independent lawyer to check that the property is unencumbered (i.e. no debts, charge or mortgages on it). Check for all other issues.
2. Prices are at the level of the cost of build, or lower. If you earn in UK pounds, and the pound remains strong, then the market could be as good as it ever gets for buyers. I quote from an agent: “Existing property prices will be a nostalgic dream in ten years from now”
Tips for owners
Click play above to listen to my interview with Neil MacCaulay from LN Group Ltd. He gives tips on about how to manage you property in Bulgaria. He talks about how to deal with utility bills, paying taxes to taking control of your building.
Neil’s advice is valid for everyone who owns, or is thinking of owning, a property in Bulgaria.
Excel Property: Info
Excel Property say…
“We are currently working on a new project scheduled to be launched in late December – Excel Holiday www.BulgarianHolidayTrip.com, offering travel services, Excel Holiday will concentrate mainly on renting out properties and will ensure the purchase of property as a successful investment. The innovative platform, under development, follows the business model of the same type as the popular HouseTrip and Airbnb. In the near future we are planning to set up a construction and investment company. Our main task is to close the cycle of services in the real estate and to increase their quality. For us Bansko has sentimental value, we like the area very much. It will be a pleasure for us to realize our professional ideas here. In addition Excel property run the website: www.cash4bulgarianproperties.com which offers sellers, subject to approval, a quick sale for their property.
We are observing the development of Bansko and we believe that it goes in a positive direction. The main principles of work which we are following are: honesty and professionalism, individual approach to every customer, regular communication, and strict privacy. www.SkiApartmentsBulgaria.com is focused entirely on ski properties in the most famous Bulgarian ski resorts – Bansko, Borovets, and Pamporovo. The website has mainly informative function, publishing analyzes, forecasts, information related to winter resorts (ski slopes, entertainment venues, weather conditions), offering property management services and selection of affordable properties for sale.
This month we are opening our new office in Bansko which will be situated in Winslow Infinity & Spa Complex. In our long-term plan, we expect to open offices in Borovets and Pamporovo.”
Plus Property Info
PluspropertyBansko office is situated opposite the main church in Bansko. Cristian Zarnescu also manages Black and White furniture and Valentina Heights.
Thank your reading.
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