Property prices in Bulgaria were five to 10 per cent lower in 2011 than in 2010, while initial estimates for this year are that they will remain largely unchanged, at "crisis levels", according to brokers quoted in a report by television station bTV.
In 2010, a bid price a sq m in capital city Sofia was close to 1100 euro but in 2011 this decreased to 920 euro, according to the bTV report.
The decline in Varna, Bulgaria’s main Black Sea city, was similar, the report said.
In late 2011, the price of property in Bourgas on the Black Sea decreased to an average 860 euro a square metre, and in Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second city, to close to 770 euro a sq m.
The most serious decline, according to the bTV report, was in Bansko, at 25 per cent.
Brokers described the property market in Bansko as "at a complete standstill," the report said.
"At the moment, sales have fallen hugely – it’s almost tragic," bTV quoted hotel manager Dimitar Iliev as saying. "Especially in the past few months, you could feel the drop, almost 30 per cent from last year and the year before. To tell you the truth, the British are almost gone," Iliev said.
The report quoted Vanya Voina, a sales manager, as saying that prices at the moment were at "almost bottom". She said that for this reason, advertising had been stepped up.
Everyone in the property business in the Bulgarian winter resort was "waiting for better times, with sales at higher prices," bTV said.
Brokers said that prices in major cities were relatively stable, but because of the decline in demand, prices had fallen.
Varna was no exception, the report said, quoting broker Dilyan Dimitrov. "In some places the decrease is eight to 10 per cent while in other areas prices are stable," he said.
The report said that the properties most in demand were two- and three-bedroom apartments, with price the key factor.
According to Polina Stoikova, operations director of a property sales company, the market was characterised by demand for properties in the low price range. She said that this meant apartments in major cities in the 50 000 euro price range, a difference from 2010, when demand was for high-end properties.
According to the bTV report, brokers refrained from specific forecasts for 2012, but said that initial estimates were that property prices would remain around current levels, possibly with a slight decline.
Brokers expected that the number of transactions would remain at the "crisis" levels that had been seen since 2010.