Saturday, April 9, 2011

Buy or rent holiday homes in Bulgaria

Currently a lot of British and Irish buyers who consider to buy properties in Bulgaria as a holiday home but with the idea of renting it out for some of the year to help cover some of the costs. Some may be thinking of buying now and renting it for a few years with a view to retiring there later. Others, just buy as rental investment.

Any of these options can work well, and do for many, but what should you be looking for in a property you intend renting?


The words location, location, location as ever apply - location is crucial. If you are looking to successfully rent your property it needs to be in a location people want to spend their holiday. Bulgaria, although not a large country, is very diverse and even though some parts are spectacularly beautiful it does not mean that tourists want to holiday there. This may be down to access - no roads or airports too far away - but will also in part be down to their lack of knowledge and familiarity with many parts of Bulgaria and what the areas have to offer.

Pretty much all of the holidaymakers will know of the Black Sea coast and the ski resorts, but will probably not be familiar with Apriltsi or Sandanski. The other side of the coin to this is that there will be less rental properties competing with you in these lesser known areas and the properties will usually be much less expensive in the first instance.

A word of caution here, don't be tempted by other Brits who have bought saying their area is the "bees knees" - use your own judgement and be critical about the areas they say are 'best', after all maybe they would like others to buy there to help the price of their own property - you have your own agenda. One way to consider things is by looking at where the locals themselves are buying - this usually means prices are on the up or soon will be.

The ideal of course is to find a property in a region that is currently not expensive but is being discovered. Look out for new roads being constructed and features like that to indicate potential buying areas. Probably, what happens in reality though is that you buy in an area you know and love!


When buying, consider carefully whether that lovely property in a town is really the right one. Often tourists on holiday want to sit out in a peaceful garden enjoying the sun, having a bbq and a glass of wine with the children safe to run around. Properties in towns can be difficult to rent out because of this.

On the other hand, rural properties can be just too rural and even isolated. Tourists soon tire of having to drive several miles just for a loaf of bread and a carton of orange juice. Once you get to the stage of having bought your property and you start renting you'll soon find that holiday makers will be constantly asking you how far your property is from local shops and cafes - most wanting to be able to walk to these facilities.

Try to think about why people would come back a second or third time. If you can get a high percentage of repeat bookings this will take a lot of straing off the marketing you'll need to do each year and may even increase your off-season bookings.

The property

Now to the property itself. Most people come in fours, so to maximise your income you'll usually need a property that will sleeep four or five people. Choosing this kind of property you can rent to families during the summer season and couples in the spring or autumn. Always keep in mind ways to maximise the numer of weeks you sell.

If you want to rent all year, be careful of very large properties. They're usually popular during the school holiday periods but can be difficult to fill the remainder of the time. Small properties can be great if you want to rent to retired or younger couples. These visitors can have distinct advantages too - less mess and damage as they don't have children!

Swimming pool

There is no doubt that a swimming pool adds a lot to the rent you can charge for your property and will make it easier to rent. However, the initial installation cost plus the ongoing cleaning and maintenance may make you feel this is not an option for you. If you're not resident you'll need someone to regularly clean the pool and check the water balance. Although there are no stringent safety laws in place for swimming pools, we would strongly advise that you enclose your pool so that it is child-proof. The thought of an accident with a child is just too shocking! Additionally, legislation of this nature will certainly arrive in Bulgaria.

Condition and Maintenance

In order to rent the property it needs to be in very good condition. For yourselves, it should also be as low-maintenance as possible. Consideration needs to be given to the fact that the property maybe empty for 20 weeks a year - so it needs to be dry, safe and secure. Rain and mice will get in if they can! Pipes can freeze, gutters get blocked and there may be a power cut. Of course, the perfect answer is to find a friendly neighbour who will look after the property in exchange for veg from your garden. But it is more likely that you will need to pay a property management company to visit the property and check that everything is fine. Don't let the property get that look of being empty and abandoned.

Having said this, a successful rental property does not need to be brand newly built. Indeed holiday makers are often looking for a house or villa which is older style with lovely features and an attractive setting. So, when looking for a property, see if there are some nice or original features such as beams or fireplaces. You'll also be able to use these in your marketing.

Getting rentals

First of all, how much time are you going to spend there yourself and at what time of year. If you're wishing to spend the whole of August there and a couple of more weeks at say Easter, then you're definitely reducing the amount of total rent you can generate. Key rental times will provide three times more revenue than low season.

A word about low season. Rental from these period will be very low and indeed many rental properties are not occupied at all during this time. Even if you charge a really nominal rent you still might find that you get no visitors. Of course you can check other similar properties on the net to see what others are charging but advertising a price does not mean they are getting bookings!

Generally, at the start you'll find that you'll be renting to family and friends - but, watch out, they will often expect to pay a much reduced rate. At least, though, it avoids some of the expense of marketing and the worry of having strangers in your property. After this first flush of enthusiasm, they usually go off the boil so you'll need to start marketing the property seriously.

Costs of ownership

Apart from your marketing there will also be other costs involved. Usually the weekly cleaning, handover, pool maintenance, gardening, heating, insurance, income tax and so on.... Don't forget to include something in for wear and tear plus breakages - holiday makers are not usually as careful as you would be. With property management companies, check the amount they will charge you carefully as this can amount to 35% of your rent or more.

If at the end of all this you're wondering whether it's worth it, just take a look at the benefits. You'll have your home in Bulgaria in an attractive location and your holiday is only a plane ride away. You'll cover some of your costs, or all of them and even make a bit. Buying now means that you've not taken the risk and waited when property prices may be much higher and in the long term you should make a nice capital gain. Most of all though, you'll just love it!

1 comment:

  1. Buying and renting are among the most frequent debates these days when it comes to housing opportunities. While both can give benefits, one must be able to recognize and consider things first whenever he/she chooses one over the other.

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