Bulgarian Real Easte Expert Veselina Koleva: Veliko Tarnovo Continues to Attract British Expats
Novinite.com interviewed Veselina Koleva, Sales Associate at RE/MAX Connection, based in Veliko Tarnovo, about the continuing popularity of the city and region among British expats.
Why does the Veliko Tarnovo region, of all the districts of Bulgaria, attract so many ex-pats?
There are a few reasons for ex-pats to choose the Veliko Tarnovo region for buying their new home: first of all, its location - Veliko Tarnovo is almost in the middle of the country, it is situated about 3 hours from the Black Sea and almost the same distance from Sofia.
Then, the Veliko Tarnovo area combines beautiful mountain views with flatter, but still very nice areas, so it is easy for everybody to find the perfect home.
Next, Veliko Tarnovo is one of those areas where the houses have kept the real Old Bulgarian look. The houses in this area are built with stone and wood, which makes them really beautiful.
As for Veliko Tarnovo itself – it’s a historical and cultural center in Bulgaria. And, according to several research studies, this is one of the best towns for living in Bulgaria and also one of the most beautiful. All these facts make the town a most attractive destination for a lot of ex-pats.
Is this client base different from that of, say, Bansko? If so, in what ways?
Most of the clients in Bansko buy a holiday property there – somewhere to go for their vacation and then come back home; while most of the buyers in Veliko Tarnovo are people who have decided to stay in Bulgaria permanently or for at least for 5 to 10 years. There’s a big difference in the two markets.
Which nationalities are prominent in Veliko Tarnovo? And what's the percentage of Brits?
Over 90% of the buyers in this region are British citizens. There are also buyers from Germany, Belgium, Italy, and France.
Is there a typical Brit profile, socially or economically?
Most often the Brit buyers here are people who have chosen Bulgaria for their retirement. They prefer to buy a property in the villages where it is quiet and peaceful, and to enjoy their village life. Also there are some younger couples who have decided to come here and start a small business – usually guest houses or property management.
What do they prefer - rental or purchase, cash or credit loans, apartments or houses and villas?
Most of the ex-pats who come to Bulgaria prefer to buy a house in the villages around Veliko Tarnovo. Usually they are cash buyers, who have their savings or they’ve sold a property abroad and have decided to invest their money in Bulgaria.
There are also ex-pats who buy flats in Veliko Tarnovo, but this is very rare. Most of the time, these are younger people, who prefer to stay in town, or expats who live in the villages and buy a flat as an investment for the future.
What is the typical price range of property acquired by Brit ex-pats?
People at the moment are looking for properties between EUR 8 000 and 12 000, even up to EUR 15 000, for a future investment or a renovation project, also renovated properties between EUR 30 and 35 000.
What about local trends for 2008 – 2009?
Compared to 2008, this year is a lot quieter. Interest in the Bulgarian properties has dropped, because of the financial situation around the world. People weren’t so certain about their future and tried not to make such investments, but at the moment, because of the general price reduction, some people realized it is the right time to buy a property as an investment.
And your predictions for the rest of 2009, for 2010 and beyond?
At the moment it is difficult to make any predictions. The property market is like every other one – it has its strong and weak moments, and the best thing is to grab the best of each time. At the moment it is a good time for buying as prices have dropped, and in a few years these properties could be sold at a profit.
What problems do ex-pats encounter, and why?
In my opinion, one of the biggest problems is the language barrier. There are people who learn the language quickly and easily, but for most of the ex-pats this is very difficult. It is hard for them to communicate with their neighbors and sometimes it is difficult for them to socialize.
What advice do you have for potential buyers, to avoid problems?
From the overall scenario – to consider, strategically, what they really want. In specific areas – to be careful in an individual sale or purchasing transaction.
The buying and selling process in Bulgaria is quite different from that of England, for example. That’s why foreign buyers have to find somebody to help them, not only for the purchase of the property, but also with all the documents and registration afterwards. My advice to potential buyers is to choose a professional estate agent who is ready to listen to them and explain clearly to them the whole process of buying or selling a property. Once they’ve found the right person they will save themselves most of the issues that can arise.
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