Bulgaria’s real estate boom stumbles as demand slumps

SOFIA, August 31, 2008 (AFP) – Bulgaria’s real estate boom is turning to bust as its key British and Irish property buyers are now discouraged by financial difficulties at home and the ugly concrete views outside their windows.

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According to a study by the Bulgarian Properties real estate agency, which works exclusively with foreign clients, holiday property sales in Black Sea and mountain resorts dropped 40 percent in the first half of 2008 compared to 2007.

“The withdrawal of British and Irish buyers from the Bulgarian market was prompted by the financial crisis in their countries but also by the bad infrastructure and the excess of concrete here,” said Dobromir Ganev of the Property Association in Varna on the Black Sea.

Many areas of great beauty have been scarred, as elsewhere, by sprawling developments built for a quick speculative gain while the money flowed in.

Between 20 and 30 percent of newly-built apartments on the coast have no chance of finding a buyer over the next two years, said Ganev.

Prices that soared to 1,000 euros (1,477 dollars) per square metre (yard) last ye