Bagging a Bargain in Bulgaria
By Mary Wilson
The Daily Mail
Carl Froch, the World Boxing Council super middleweight champion, is finding investing in overseas property just as satisfying as delivering a well-placed left hook. And it may turn out to be almost as lucrative.
‘What is the point of having money in the bank which is earning nothing?’ says Froch, 31, who lives in Nottingham. ‘I have been investing between £8,800 and £44,000 in property in Bulgaria and Turkey over the past 12 months.’
He’s put his money into small apartments, which he intends to rent out to locals rather than holidaymakers, and a suite in an ‘apart-hotel’, which he hopes will have a good return.
‘This sort of investment is perfect for someone like me who gets lumps of money in dribs and drabs,’ he says. ‘I see the properties as my pension as I don’t have other savings.’
Joe Upchurch, managing director of Aston Lloyd, from whom Froch has bought his properties, is a boxing fan. He has also sold an apartment to Joe Calzaghe, one of Froch’s heroes.
‘Upchurch is very experienced and knowledgeable and I trust his advice completely.
‘It’s all about timing,’ he says, and as a boxer, he should know.
Carl isn’t worried about negative comments about the Bulgarian property market:
‘That mostly relates to the south-eastern coast, which is like the Costa del Sol. I have invested in Kostinbrod, which is 15 minutes from the capital of Sofia.
‘This is an up-and-coming business district and the whole area is being revitalised. I am confident I will get a guaranteed income for the rest of my life, as well as seeing the capital value increase too.’
Reports show an 8.4 per cent increase in tourist revenue in 2008, with demand from foreign visitors and Bulgarian nationals expected to remain stable this year, backed by a government advertisement campaign worth the equivalent of £3.5million to promote tourism.
Ross Elder, MD of holidaylettings.co.uk, says:
‘Inquiries for Bulgaria in the first quarter of 2009 are up 9 per cent. It’s a fantastic holiday option if you are seeking value for money on accommodation, flights and food.’
Many people piled into Bulgaria in the boom seeking a quick buck, only to go belly up.
But there’s still income and growth to be had if buyers do their ground work, on the developer as well as the property, take independent legal advice and buy good-quality property in the right area.
Overseas property consultant, Simon Conn, adds: ‘In good city locations, such as Sofia and the better-quality coastal developments, there are long-term possibilities.’
The 58-room, four-star Aston Hotel Sofia in Kostinbrod will have a restaurant, bars, pool, fitness facilities and conference centre. En-suite bedrooms start at £8,800, with investors earning 50 per cent of room income from 28 days per year, plus seven days for their own use.
The company also guarantees a 6 per cent yield in the first year and those who are eligible for a SIPP could get up to 40 per cent cash back. International Dreams specialises in upmarket Bulgarian developments.
‘The properties we sell are either beach-front or in areas which are open all year round because there is an established local population rather than a seasonal one,’ says Richard Parker, of International Dreams.
‘Bulgaria is no longer the place for anyone looking for a hefty profit. But if you are looking for long-term investment through a second home with rental income, Bulgaria offers a cracking cheap holiday.’
Farther north along the Black Sea at Obzor, uber-chic developer Yoo is building smart studio, one, two and three-bedroom apartments.
‘Interest is mostly from cash buyers generally taking a long-term view,’ says James Price, of Knight Frank.