Skip to main content

Media Reviews

The site reports on a worldwide property survey by economists at Global Property Guide on last year's international house prices. The survey's findings confirm a crash in the US housing market, a slowdown in Europe's housing markets and a gathering of momentum in the Asia-Pacific. "Closer inspection of the report showed some surprising winners and losers," notes the site.
"Bulgaria saw the world's strongest house price growth at 30.6 per cent (15.4 per cent in real terms) to end-Q3 2007 from a year earlier. Most European countries registered unimpressive year-on-year house price changes in 2007, except Norway and Estonia."

The report notes that property prices in Ireland fell last year, the first time in more than 15 years. "The Irish housing market had the biggest and longest house price boom among developed countries in recent years. Ireland's house prices registered a 4.68 per cent year-on-year fall until October 2007. When adjusted for inflation, the fall is even more pronounced: 9.1 per cent. The Irish housing market is vulnerable to interest rate changes, as 85 per cent of mortgages are variable rate."

The site goes on to report on other European regions: "The Baltics performed quite well in terms of house price rates compared to the previous year, but the latest quarterly data presents a picture of a region whose housing markets are in trouble. Apartment prices fell by 7.7 per cent to September 2007, compared to the previous quarter. Lithuania's apartment prices have stagnated at 12 500 LTL, or Lithuanian litas, (US$5213 or 3620 euro) a sq m. in the last two quarters. In Estonia, quarterly house prices increased by 23.4 per cent year on year to Q3 2007, lower than the 28.6 per cent growth up until the end of 2006."

Financial New Year resolutions at home and abroad
January 7 2008

"If your New Year's resolution is to 'sort out your finances' don't forget ways to save money on a property abroad," say currency specialists HiFX, cited on Easier website. "Almost a quarter of a million Brits already own a property abroad. And with an average 15 per cent increase in the number of buyers each year up to 285 000 Brits could have financial commitments overseas in 2008," the website reports.

Mark Bodega, director at HiFX consultancy company, suggests an investor's list of New Year's resolutions in order to put overseas finances in the best possible shape for this year. Bodega recommends investors to seek the best deals on overseas property insurance. "If you are one of the many Brits who bought a property in one of the world's many emerging property markets such as Dubai, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Croatia, Morocco, Poland and Romania, 2008 is the time to shop around for cheaper overseas property insurance as many brokers have responded to this increasing demand for a place in the sun or snow by widening their insurance protection. Canny owners could take advantage of risk related discounts of up to 40 per cent." However, Bodega strikes a warning note: "Don't be tempted to use a normal home insurance policy and avoid disclosing that the property is a holiday home as this could invalidate your insurance."

A guide to househunting on the web
Peter Conradi and Helen Davies, The Sunday Times
January 6 2008

"Gone are the days when people's property searches invariably began with a nose pressed against an estate agent's window. For many, the starting point is instead the internet, and one of the many portals that allow you to search properties marketed by various agencies by size, price and location," write Peter Conradi and Helen Davies in The Sunday Times.

The paper reports that the rapid development of high-tech technology has enabled potential buyers to receive property information on their phones, mobiles and computers: "With the web come all sorts of other possibilities. Most portals contain other local information: Rightmove and Primelocation, for example, offer buying guides, market reports and more. Globrix plans to include school league tables and Land Registry data showing the prices at which properties have changed hands."   

Short promotion films are growing popular with overseas investors, the paper adds, particularly those that show not just the development itself but the surrounding area. "(This) is a valuable tool for the new brand of investors thinking of buying in Belize, Bulgaria or another far-flung country they have never visited. Buying merely on the basis of such a film would be little short of foolhardy - but it allows potential buyers to draw up a short-list in advance," concludes the paper.

Bulgarian ski complex threatens Rila National Park
Katherine Chandler,
January 4 2008

"The Rila Mountain ski project reflects a national frenzy to cash in on an anticipated tourist boom in Bulgaria," writes Katherine Chandler. "In the last seven years, tourism revenues in the country have increased 18 per cent and arrivals are projected to grow from 4.8 million visitors in 2005 to 20 million by 2020. Property values in popular destinations have increased by 20 to 30 percent in the past year alone," she reports.

"A small ski area called Panichishte has existed in the Seven Lakes region since the late 1970s - prior to the designation of Rila National Park in 1992. In 2006, a municipality bordering the park sold 200 hectares around Panichishte - directly, without public auction - to a company named Rila Sport, the Bulgarian management company that oversees the ski resort development, for a reported 7 euros ($10.30) a square meter," she writes.

Chandler reports that Slaveiko Staikov, managing director of Rila Sport, maintains that the sale is legal. She also notes that land in the same area now sells for up to 80 euro a sq m and that drawing board apartments are being sold on the Internet for as much as 1300 euro a sq m. In spite of Staikov's claims, Chandler expresses surprise that the Bulgarian Government has not intervened to prevent the project, citing the Rila National Park's status as part of the Protected Areas Network (PAN), and so technically one of Europe's largest shielded areas. "Bulgarian environmentalists have gathered proof to document corporate law-breaking in protected areas, yet the Ministry of the Environment has only addressed minor violations. Because of such oversights by the Bulgarian Government, the Let Nature Remain coalition has filed a complaint with the European Commission," Chandler writes.

Check out overseas destinations for $1m bargain
January 3 2008

Property investors could get more for their money in destinations such as Canada, Spain and Sweden, according to a report in Forbes, cited on the HolidayLettings website. The report says that
all three destinations offer more for consumers' money that the UK.
"Emerging markets, such as Bulgaria and Poland, are enjoying property price growth - but traditional investment markets are also performing well," according to Charles Weston Baker, the director of Savills' International Residential Department.
Property services firm Atlas International continues to identify Spain as a destination offering considerable choice to second homebuyers.

India tipped to develop property hotspots
January 3 2008, the overseas property portal, predicts that India could develop the kind of property attractions that have been seen recently in Bulgaria and other Eastern European countries, according to a report on the HomeMove website.

"Bulgaria has died down a lot; it was all the rage last year. It's almost like a fashion, and India is definitely on the agenda for next year," says Nicholas Marr, chief executive of
The website says that prices in Mumbai and Delhi are highly competitive.  He notes that in the case of Delhi's, the hosts of the 2010 Commonwealth games, development plans should provide many  new investment opportunities. However, the website makes clear that prospective purchasers should heed the country's bureaucratic traditions as well as foreign investment rules and policies. These include regulations regarding land ownership and the repatriation of funds, which need to be thoroughly researched.

Property overseas: Where's hot, where's not, where's next
Zoe Dare Hall, The Daily Telegraph
December 22 2007

"The term credit crunch laces every property conversation, along with widespread apprehension over just how far its insidious tentacles will stretch," is the colourfully phrased conclusion of The Daily Telegraph's Zoe Hall in an article quoting various sources.

Hall notes that the year began well for the EU's two newest members, Bulgaria and Romania, expecting to enjoy the boom resulting from their accession. Her article notes, however, that prices for off-plan properties did not take off in the way some predicted. "Currently, they remain stable. However, the resale market is seeing bigger leaps in value, with demand for resale properties up 70 per cent on last year and sellers making profits of about 45 per cent."

The article also quotes Robin Barrasford, from Barrasford and Bird: "EU membership has brought about a measure of confidence and stability that had been absent from the Bulgarian market before 2007." Barrasford sees greatest potential in the ski resort of Pamporovo, which benefits from proximity to Greece via a new highway.

The article notes that Romania has also prospered since EU accession. "Bucharest, the capital, saw city-centre prices rising by 27 per cent to an average Ј1,300 per square metre in the first six months of this year, buoyed up by strong local demand and new interest from foreign speculators."

Hall concludes: "For eastern Europe, in general, it has been a good year, with fast-growing economies, increasingly wealthy populations, more accessible finance and demand for better-quality accommodation all combining to fuel local property booms."

Europe property revival seen in second half of 2008
The Economic Times
December 21 2007

"European commercial real estate investment volumes are set to dwindle further in early 2008, but buoyant occupier demand should ignite a market revival as the year unfolds," property services firm King Sturge has reported, as quoted by The Economic Times - India's leading business publication - and Reuters.
"In its annual European Property Market Outlook, the London-based firm said that while property was unlikely to deliver the spectacular returns seen in recent years, strong prospects for rental growth could coax back equity-rich investors as early as June. Despite some uncertainties in the financial markets, continental Europe is underpinned by positive long-term fundamentals: a strong macro-economic outlook, healthy businesses and improving occupier markets," the report said.
 "King Sturge said it expected France and Germany to supersede Britain as Europe's busiest hubs of investment activity next year, but said momentum for growth was also building in emerging markets like Poland, Slovakia, Turkey and Bulgaria,"The Economic Times said.

Don't get burned by house in sun
John Mulligan,
December 20 2007

"Even as the credit crisis continues to bite, US and eastern European cities are still drawing Irish investors. However, there are plenty of potential pitfalls when buying that dream home abroad," writes John Mulligan in the Irish Independent.

The article continues: "Dublin-based solicitor Tom McGrath says he generally has two types of clients that come to him for help in relation to foreign property acquisitions: those seeking advice before they sign on the bottom line, and those who are 'trying to pick up the pieces' of a contract gone wrong. 'I find that the issues particularly arise in Romania and Bulgaria,' says Mr McGrath. These tales of woe aside, Mr McGrath acknowledges that he has 'hundreds' of clients who have bought foreign property and who are very happy with the returns they've yielded."

The Independent notes that a recent survey from international property firm Frank Knight showed that house prices in some eastern European countries continue to rise. In particular, the paper cites the sharp rise in Bulgarian house prices.

Studio flats 'marketed as studio suites'
December 18 2007

Buying studio flats in countries such as Bulgaria can be a convenient way to get onto the property ladder as an investor, according to EstateAngels web site. Studio flats are continuing to prove attractive to buyers and savvy agents are ensuring they market the properties to their best advantage.

"With house prices still high - despite the recent slowdown in growth - and many buyers looking for a suitable property in a central location, the studio flat can be the right starter home for some buyers," John Ennis, head of new homes and investment at Foxtons, told the Times: "There is a colossal demand for entry-level flats. Not everyone can afford a two-bed - and they make good rental investments." He added that some agents are using the phrase "studio suite" in order to emphasise the lifestyle offered by the homes.