Residential construction in Bulgaria – Growth goes on, challenges remain

Rises in employment and income in Bulgaria, combined with low interest rates both on deposits and housing loans, are pushing residential construction as well as the property market upwards. The rise in profit margin increasingly attracts investors in the sector. However, aging multi-family buildings and the growing number of uninhabited properties remain as major challenges ahead of the housing stock in the country.

Written by Yasen Georgiev and Dragomir Belchev, EPI – EECFA Bulgaria

Varna Wave ongoing residential project in Varna, Bulgaria – Source: varnawave.bg

Residential construction and the real estate market in Bulgaria continue to be in the focus of investors and developers. The turning point was in 2016 when the sector registered a growth of 31.1% and it is expected to increase in double-digit terms in the period up to 2019. These developments have a direct correlation with improved living conditions as in 2017 the Bulgarian GDP grew by 3.6%. According to European Commission forecasts, there are no signs for pessimism as they prognosticate a further growth of 3.8% in 2018 and 3.7% in 2019.

The economic development is accompanied by low rates of unemployment and an increased disposable income. Major cities in Bulgaria such as Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas are getting more and more attractive, which leads to the concentration of the population and creates a strong demand in the residential sector. Consumer preferences are also changing in favour of quality properties (larger ones and with better location) that are lacking in the market. At the moment supply is still lagging behind, unable to catch up with demand. In H1 2018 completed newly-built residential buildings were 9.1% more than in the same period in 2017. In terms of dwellings, there is a drop of 10.3%, which is a proof of the completion of bigger-scale projects.

As a result, currently over 50% of the deals are made while dwellings are still under construction. Continue reading Residential construction in Bulgaria – Growth goes on, challenges remain

Game of Towers – Sofia’s New Dynamics in Office Construction

Demand for offices in Sofia is boosting a huge activity in office building and mixed-use projects, and growing land prices trigger the construction of higher and higher such buildings and office towers. The game of towers has generated a public debate on whether to designate zones where these buildings are to be concentrated.

Written by Yasen Georgiev and Dragomir Belchev, EPI – EECFA Bulgaria

BLU Offices, City Tower, Millenium Center (upper row), Capital Fort (lower row). Sources: http://www.novinite.bg, http://www.blu-offices.com, http://www.capitalfort.com, http://www.icon-bulgaria.com

In 2016 the Bulgarian economy registered a growth of 3.4%, driven mainly by increasing household consumption and export volumes. Forecast for 2017 and 2018 suggests that the country’s GDP will register a further expansion between 3% and 3.5%, reflecting the positive signs from the labor market and their implications on individual demand.

These trends support EECFA’s latest summer forecast for an increase in the overall construction market by more than 5% in 2017 and over 3% in 2018. Building construction is set to grow even at a higher pace, thus reaching an annual increase of around 8% for 2017-2019. Beside the accelerated growth of residential construction, it is the non-residential sub-sector that shows increased dynamics after a year of negative growth.

According to the EECFA 2017 Bulgaria summer report, office construction is expected to rise and reach an average growth of 4.7% over the 2017-2019 period. This forecast is supported not only by the announcement of a number of projects due to start in 2017-2018, but also by the increase in permitted floor spaces of office and administrative buildings in 2016 on an annual basis, as well as by the scale of started projects in Q12017 compared to Q12016.

In this regard, Sofia remains the most economically active city in the country. Despite the emerging demand for contemporary office space in secondary cities, in terms of floor space, 77% of all permitted office and administrative buildings in 2016 are located in the capital city, similarly to the share of started office and administrative buildings in Sofia, in a nationwide comparison accounting for 74%.

What stands behind is demand coming from outsourcing and IT companies that either seek to expand or to offer more appealing office facilities to their employees Continue reading Game of Towers – Sofia’s New Dynamics in Office Construction