V. Leviev: Bulgarians Prefer Apartments of Between 65 and 90 sq.m.

V. Leviev: Bulgarians Prefer Apartments of Between 65 and 90 sq.m.

93.4% of Bulgarians own the homes they live in, Valery Leviev, executive director of Elta Consult, a CB Richard Ellis partner company, said in an interview for Profit TV. 

Bulgarians prefer one and two-bedroom homes of between 65 and 90 m2 in size. Those are the preferences of young families or older couples, whose children no longer live with them.

According to statistics, Bulgarians nowadays prefer smaller homes than they did 18-20 years ago.

The most important factors for choosing a property are its quality and price. In terms of quality, what is most important to Bulgarians is location and distance from supermarkets, kindergartens, schools, shops etc.

The downtown areas are still the most attractive. As far as finances are concerned, Bulgarians are enjoying a favorable economic and market environment, Mr. Leviev said. The segment of mortgage crediting has flourished in recent times and more than 80-85% of home purchases are financed by bank loans.

Banks in Bulgaria are in general more liberal than those in CEE, while the credit parameters are equally as good and sometimes even better.

Foreign investors are saying that the market of residential real estate is the safest one, as in each country it has the greatest number of buyers and sellers. Keeping a property as an investment for a longer period of time always reduces the risks, experts point out.

With the rising average wages in the country, more investors are considering the opportunities of buying properties in order to rent them out. This market is still relatively small in Bulgaria and is dominated by foreign investors.

Elta Consult recently established a facility management association in Bulgaria.

Industrial parks are attractive for investors in a different way. The most developed territory in these terms right now is the city of Plovdiv, because of the nearby Trakiya Highway and the upcoming construction of two more main motorways.

Ruse and Varna are the two other logistics centers of Bulgaria. Ruse, because of the Danube Bridge and Varna, because of its port. The capital Sofia is also important logistically.

The office market is to a large extent a barometer of a country's economic development. At the moment, Sofia has the strongest office segment in the country. It is not very large, but it is fast developing. The entire market is of not more than 700,000 square meters, which is not a very impressive figure for a city of 2 mln people. Prague, for example, has a population of 1.5 mln people and 2.4 mln sqm of office space.

The availability of office space in Sofia is expected to increase significantly and to reach record levels by 2010-11.

Many companies with offices currently situated in residential buildings are preferring to move into modern office buildings.

The country's EU accession is having a very positive impact on the segment. International companies are entering the market and the quality is improving.

The global credit crunch lead to a stronger demand for offices in CEE as businesses from North America are outsourcing in the region.

As far as shopping malls are considered, the population's purchasing power is the factor that determines growth on that segment. Purchasing power is on the rise in Bulgaria, Mr Leviev said, and “Bulgarians love going to mall”.

Unemployment in Sofia is below 3%, he added, and the average wage is increasing in all cities. Commercial space per capita in Bulgaria is several times below the average for the EU. Despite that, some cities are already beginning to fear a possible oversaturation on the shopping mall segment.

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