Archive for the 'Bansko' Category

Number of housing property deals in Bulgaria’s capital doubled in January – Bulgarian Properties

The number of transactions on Sofia’s housing market in January 2011 was double that of January 2010, Sofia-based real estate agency Bulgarian Properties said.

According to Polina Stoykova, chief operating officer at the agency, this was the strongest January in terms of residential property deals in Sofia.

Usually, the number of sales at the start of the year is lower, but this is considered a good sign for the real estate market as a whole, because the trend is indicative of Sofia’s entire property market, Stoykova said.

One-bedroom flats at prices of up to 50 000 euro generated the strongest interest in January, followed by two-room apartments at between 75 000 euro and 80 000 euro, as well as luxury flats priced at 120 000 euro to 300 000 euro.

Super Bansko

Skiing fans in Bulgaria were treated to an outstanding event of skiing on the last weekend of February, which only a fortnight ago was looking in danger of being ruined by the early arrival of spring and temperatures rising to double digits nationwide. But it all proved a false alarm and, as fortunes and the weather smiled seductively over Bansko, winter staged a comeback and the FIS World Cup leg proved a blast.

It was was the equivalent of a football super Sunday for Bulgaria, as while the international skiing elite congregated on the slopes of Bansko and thousands of fans made the pilgrimage to the winter resort, Sofia was bracing itself for the opening of the spring leg of the football season with a derby between arch rivals Levski Sofia and CSKA Sofia. The football match turned out to be a washout, as an otherwise unexpectedly decent football match, by Bulgarian standards, was overshadowed by violence on the terraces, which later spilled outside the ground and onto the streets.

But nevermind football. This was about Bansko’s magnificent white weekend and nothing would spoil it, not even initial concerns that the weather might interfere with proceedings as heavy clouds and thick fog enveloped the slopes on the day before the first race – it was just a teaser, with the sun emerging gloriously on February 26, bathing the mountain in its warm embrace.

Tourists flocked in their thousands as coaches ferried fans from Bansko town centre as early as 7am in the morning to Bunderishka Polyana, where the main stand was built. More than 7000 fans would make it up the mountain on both days, to give it the atmosphere of a real white carnival.

Bansko saw super combined on the first day, followed by slalom on February 27, and both had a fair share of drama.

Italy’s Christof Innerhofer – the reigning super-giant world champion, who finished second in the super combined race and third in downhill at the world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen earlier in February – pulled off a win by the slimmest of margins, posting a combined time of 2:23.87.

What was particularly epic about his performance was that Innerhofer came in a lowly 11th place in the slalom leg, a full 1.2 seconds behind Germany’s Felix Neureuther, but Innerhofer regrouped to stage a brilliant super-giant run in the afternoon.

Neureuther, a slalom specialist, fell well behind in the super-giant, but still finished second overall, only 0.01 seconds behind Innerhofer. Frenchman Thomas Mermillod Blondin finished third, 0.33 seconds behind Innerhofer. Recently-minted slalom world champion, Jean-Baptiste Grange of France, who was expected to make a run at the podium, fell early into his slalom run and did not finish.

American Ted Ligety, the reigning giant slalom champion, finished fourth and World Cup leader Ivica Kostelic of Croatia, cheered on by his many fans present in Bansko, was fifth. Kostelic had secured the super combined lesser World Cup trophy well before the race in Bansko, the fourth and final in this discipline this season.

Mario Matt of Austria won the slalom on the second day, his first race win in nearly two years. The Austrian (31) was fastest in the morning’s first run and went on to be equally impressive in the second run to post a combined time of 1:50.35 and win his 13th World Cup race. His compatriot Reinfried Herbst clocked the second-best time, a mere 0.04 seconds behind.

Showing no ill after-effects from his mishap a day earlier, Jean-Baptiste Grange rounded out the podium, 0.48 seconds adrift, but he also managed to shorten the gap to Ivica Kostelic to 36 points in the slalom standings.

Kostelic tops the standings with 478 points, followed by Grange with 442, while Sweden’s Andre Myhrer is a distant 333 points with two races still to go.

In the overall standings following the Bansko races, Kostelic has a virtually-unassailable lead with 1294 points, while his closest pursuers, Didier Cuche of Switzerland and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, have 725 points and 713 points, respectively. Both skiers specialise in the longer disciplines and skipped the slalom-centred event in Bansko altogether.

Bulgaria was also featured in both days of the spectacle, even if none of the resident skiers put in a big title challenge, as the local fans would have liked. Nevertheless, Georgi Georgiev scored big by finishing 21st in the slalom race, which won him 10 World Cup points, while Nikola Chongarov barely missed out by finishing 33rd.

Top skiing weekend and smiles all around for Matt and Innerhofer, who, apart from leaving Bulgaria with good memories, will have to get used to the idea of being neighbours after being given keys to brand-new flats in the Pirin Golf Complex near Razlog. Hopefully, that should mean we would be seeing more of them on the slopes of Bansko.

Sofia Housing Market Shows Strong Signs of Recovery

The January 2011 sales of housing properties in Sofia are up two times compared to January 2010, according to data from the real estate agency Bulgarian Properties.

The company’s Operational Director, Polina Stoykova, quoted by the Bulgarian daily “Dnevnik,” says data about deals concluded in January of 2011 shows this has been the strongest first month of the year in terms of sales in several years to pass.

The Director explains the common trend is for the sales to go down in the beginning of the year, adding the numbers are a good sign for the real estate market as a whole.

In January, buyers were mostly interested in one-bedroom apartments with a listing price of up to EUR 50 000; followed by two-bedroom units between EUR 75 000 and EUR 80 000, and by luxury apartments with prices between EUR 120 000 and EUR 300 000.

Considering the average income and the price reduction for housing units, apartments in Sofia are way more affordable compared to 5 years ago, according to Stoykova.

Data from the National Statistics Institute (NSI) shows that housing prices in the capital are at the 2005 level while the average income of 1 employee after inflation deduction is 65% higher compared to the same year.

In 2005, an individual was able to afford with their monthly income about 0.4 square meters of housing in Sofia while in 2010 this number is 0.5 square meters.

For example, a 70 square-meter apartment in 2010 could be paid off in 11 years or 132 monthly salaries. In 2005, these numbers have been 14.5 and 175 respectively; in 2000 – 9 end 107.

The lowest purchasing power was registered in 2008 – 0.3 square meters in 19.5 years or 233 monthly salaries.

Apartment prices in Sofia have fallen by nearly 33%, compared to their peak in 2008, according to NSI data, and 31%, according to Bulgarian Properties data. The reduction, however, is nearing 0 since the second half of 2010, meaning the real estate prices have already hit their bottom.

Stoykova’s forecast is for a continuing strong interest on the part of the buyers in Sofia over the expected relocation, (triggered by better wages), of highly educated people and business people.

9 Million Tourists Had Vacations in Bulgaria in 2010

Almost 9 million tourists were registered in Bulgaria in 2010, according to data of the National Tourism Board, an association of the tourism industry, which had a conference in Sofia Wednesday.

The National Tourism Board conference was attended by Finance Minister Simeon Djankov, who promised government support for key tourist infrastructure projects.

The tourism industry data presented at the conference says that Bulgaria saw a 5% increase in bed occupancy in 2010 year on year, with the total bed occupancy reaching 30%.

“We are regaining our positions from before the economic crisis. What is more, for 2011 we expect even better results, and about the same number of tourists,” stated Rumen Draganov, head of the Institute for Analysis and Estimates in Tourism. The Board data suggests that in spite of the crisis, Bulgaria’s tourism revenues are on the increase.

Bulgaria’s government will invest a total of BGN 42 M in advertising the country as a tourist destination in 2011, Bulgaria’s Finance Minister Djankov said. Djankov vowed an emphasis on cultural tourism.

The National Tourism Board has demanded a “clear” tourism law that defines and outlines the various tourist attractions. One of Bulgaria’s problems is that it has very few international brands of hotels, according to the experts.

Bulgaria Boasts 3.2% Increase in Winter Tourism Y/Y

During the traditional months for winter tourism in Bulgaria, January and February, the industry had registered a 3.2% growth compared to the same period of 2009.

The data was revealed for the media Saturday by Economy Minister, Traicho Traikov, who said the revenues for the same months in 2010 have been EUR 190 M while Bulgarians spent on vacations abroad EUR 130 M.

A stark change in the ratio of countries sending most tourists to Bulgaria in the winter has been registered during the 2010 winter season – in previous years 80% of them came from the UK and Russia while in 2010 most came from neighboring countries.

Since the beginning of 2010, hotel owners in Bulgaria’s winter resort of Bansko have been reporting having most reservations from Greece, Serbia and Macedonia. There is also an increase of Romanian visitors, but on a smaller scale.

Foreign tourists have spent an average of EUR 86 a day for their winter vacation, which they have combined with SPA and cultural tourism. The leading factor for them to select Bulgaria had been the low price. Their preferred hotels were the 4-star ones and most have purchased packages from travel agents.

Bulgarians, on the other hand side, have chosen countryside and winter vacations almost with the same rates as in the fall. Most of them made their own reservations while 43% stayed with friends and relatives instead of using hotels. Bulgarians spent an average of BGN 46 a day for their winter trips while their top priorities have been beautiful surroundings and good food.

Welcome to RilaDev’s Blog!

In 2006, RilaDev a English Bulgarian homebuilder embarked on one of the most ambitious hotel and residential project in Bansko, Bulgaria, Pirinea Hotel Spa and Residence.

This blog offers current news and information on the Bulgarian real estate market and economy, local and touristic events and tracks the exciting progress of this emerging market.

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Russell Collins

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Author: Russell Collins - RilaDev

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