Housing prices in Bulgaria have been steadily rising for several years, the result of a growing economy and low interest rates, agents said. Across the country, prices were up 6 percent in the third quarter of 2018, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to an index provided by Bulgaria’s National Statistical Institute.
In Sofia — Bulgaria’s largest city, with about 1.2 million residents — prices were up 7 percent in the third quarter of 2018, compared to a year earlier, and they were 36 percent higher than during the same period in 2015, according to government data.
Stanislav Petrov, the founder and managing director of Select Properties Bulgaria, said more than 80 percent of his clients in Sofia are buying apartments, with prices averaging about 1,120 euros a square meter ($118 a square foot) for a two-bedroom.
About 80 percent of buyers in Sofia are local. But Sofia has been on the international radar for over a decade, and company sees a steady stream of foreign buyers.
International buyers are primarily from European countries like Britain, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, as well as neighboring Greece, Serbia and Macedonia. There are also clients from the United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia.
Bulgaria, which joined the European Union in 2007, can be a complicated place for foreigners to buy property. Typically, noncitizens are allowed to own buildings, but not land, although there are exceptions for citizens of other European Union countries. Foreign buyers often set up companies to buy property, Mr. Petrov said.
The lev remains the official currency of Bulgaria, but its value is tied to that of the euro, as the country prepares to adopt the euro officially, and properties are routinely listed in euros.
Foreign buyers should hire an independent attorney — not connected to the listing agency or the seller — to check the property for debts and ensure that there are no liens on it, Mr. Petrov said.
By Kevin Brass
• Feb. 27, 2019