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Property Abroad: Bulgaria Is It Worth It?

It's a tough market, but there's an Eastern Bloc country where investors are prepared to pay now and reap the rewards later.

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% 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 £3.5m to promote tourism.Ross Elder, MD of holidaylettings., says: 'Inquiries for Bulgaria in the first quarter of 2009 are up 9%. 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.'