Newsweek: Bulgaria Welcomes Foreign Bargain Hunters

Business | August 15, 2006, Tuesday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0

Anybody who's anyone in Europe these days is buying a vacation retreat. And they're not doing it close to home, but in Bulgaria, Croatia and Morocco, the Newsweek writes in an article, entitled "Room with a View".

The trend is particularly pronounced among northern Europeans looking for a place in the sun, says the author Stryker Mcguire.

"Along the Mediterranean "sun belt," stretching from the Greek islands to southern Iberia, second homes make up 10 to 15 percent of total national housing stocks. The strongest markets are, unsurprisingly, France and Spain, the world's first and second largest tourist destinations. But demand is so strong (and the investment prospects so promising) that the hottest hot spots today are countries like Croatia and Bulgaria."

750,000 Britons now own second homes on the Continent, a privilege which is no longer only for the rich, show estimates of Caxton FX, a foreign-exchange company in London.

The Brussels bureaucracy that so many Europeans love to hate is one of the great driving forces behind the boom, the Newsweek argues.

"Aside from facilitating travel and allowing Europeans from one country to buy property in another, the EU has doled out hundreds of millions of euros in "structural funds"- "money that goes to new members for infrastructure improvements. This largesse has transformed countries that once lagged behind their neighbors."

Newsweek describes the second-home phenomenon as the European Dream come true, but claims that the establishment of a United States of Europe will never come into being because of anti-EU sentiment. The author claims that the drivers behind second-home ownership are personal - they're about family, fun and potential financial gain.

"The local people welcome foreigners because they bring money," says Boyko Borisov, the mayor of Sofia, Bulgaria. "I don't see any clashes or obstacles."

Particularly welcoming are would-be home sellers who've seen their properties rocket in value as Western bargain hunters head farther east. In the past year alone, prices in Bulgaria have climbed at least 25 percent while remaining among the lowest in Europe.
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