The rapid rise of Bulgaria in overseas home hunters’ hearts has led to enquiries for cash to purchase properties in the Eastern European country almost overtaking France.
A new report by foreign exchange specialist Moneycorp said 12% of enquiries for funds to purchase a property abroad over the past three months were for Bulgaria – swiftly approaching the 14% for France.
And in some areas of Britain, the attraction of bargain Eastern European properties has overtaken that of their more expensive counterparts over the Channel – with Moneycorp saying buyers in the North, West Midlands and Wales more likely to opt for Bulgaria than France.
However, homes in Spain still remain the overwhelming number one choice for those seeking properties abroad, with 30% of enquiries for Spanish property purchases.
Marc Morley-Freer of Moneycorp said: ‘Traditionally France and Spain have dominated the foreign property market and Brits are continuing their long love affair with these countries.
‘But there are also increasingly popular countries such as Bulgaria and the United Arab Emirates, which are providing significant investment opportunities.’
The popularity of Bulgarian holiday homes has been driven by sunshine properties on the Black Sea coast and bargain ski apartments in resorts such as Bansko and Pamporovo.
But experts have warned investors to take claims of easy profits and strong returns with a pinch of salt. A building boom has seen popular resorts turned into building sites with concerns that an over-supply of newly-built properties will lower resale values and reduce rents.
Meanwhile, questions have been raised over new developments in national park areas, after the Worldwide Fund for Nature challenged the development of a five-star resort called the Golden Pearl, built in the Bulgarian nature park of Strandzha.
Prospective buyers in Bulgaria have been advised to ensure the agents and developers they deal with are reputable, carry out legal checks similar to those in Britain, and visit areas before buying there, rather than purchasing off-plan from the UK.
Bulgaria’s swift rise in popularity has echoed that of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, which has seen an influx of UK buyers and huge development over the past five years. Moneycorp said enquiries for property purchases in the UAE were its fifth most common, while the US was third favourite and Bulgaria fourth.