All the truth about Bansko real properties

The next ski season in Bulgaria is coming close and a small pretty village Bansko is going to welcome guests again. People come here for skiing, Christmas vacation or spending some time far from city noise. Many of the tourists, fascinated by snow-capped mount peaks, start thinking about purchasing a property in Bansko, but in vain. The author of the article would like to share his tragic experience and warn all the future customers.

1. Bansko districts

The development of Bansko began due to the availability of ski slopes. At first, it was just a few tracks where tourists were brought by mini buses. Then, with the appearance of ski lift, local businessmen start to pick up bank loans in order to build lovely hotels, so the village turned into a kind of alpine town. By the way, many of the developers are never completed the construction, or purposely declared bankrupt, escaping with the rest of bank's money, the large number of unfinished buildings is an evidence of it. Meanwhile, local villagers were changing family lands for Porsche sports crossovers.

Approximate districts areas

Modern Bansko is divided (roughly speaking) into three main areas: Gypsy district, Old Town and New Town. Officially, there are much more districts names, but for someone, who has just arrived in Bansko, three areas will be easier to navigate.

  • Gypsy district. Gypsies are actually living here. The land in this district is much cheaper, because it's far from the ski lift, so the hotels construction cost less. During the winter, this area becomes an epicenter of smog and in summer it’s just dirty, dull, ugly and perhaps a bit dangerous. However, the prices for real estate are much lower than in other areas: 10–15 000 € (without realtor charge).
  • Old Town. Basically, the area consists of old shabby houses, remaining from the old village, mixed with mini-hotels («къшы за гости») renovated in bulgarian style. This area also has its drawbacks: narrow streets, parking problems, tourists crowds, the atmosphere of bulgarian laxity. It's quite far from the ski lift, so it will be almost impossible to rent it out successfully. There is also a strong smog in winter time. Moreover, some locals, due to the lack of money, are stoking stoves with cheap rubbish such as old car tires. So, sometimes the smog becomes not only unpleasant, but also dangerous. Property prices around 15–25 000 € (excluding the sum of realtor's greed).
  • New Town. Mainly, consists of the hotels, large and small. There are also several private houses without management company. Buildings are stretching off-road to the very outskirts, and yes, it's also for sale. Area cons: it could be very noisy and extremely crowded during the high season, just below your window. Pros: the lift is quite close, there is almost no smog. Pricing around 25–35 000 € (excluding realtor's appetite).

St. John Park, one of the half-dead hotels. Bulgarian OBB Bank is selling mossy apts

2. Property types

There are two types of properties in Bansko: an apartment in a hotel and a flat in condo house. Both of them have it special features, let's consider them below.

  • Hotels: year-round, seasonal and half-dead types. There are very few of year-round hotels in Bansko, and at any moment the year-round hotel can switch to the «seasonal» or «half-dead» mode. Example: Belvedere. Seasonal hotels are opened for 3 months in winter and 3 months in summer. The rest of the time it's a cold storehouse. Example: Bansko Royal Towers. Half-dead hotels, those which stopped work. Something went wrong with constructing, planning or financing. For example, the building was arrested because of debts, and now it is sells as separate apartments in a semi-abandoned complex. Example: St. John Park / Hill. Pros of buying property in «alive» hotel: heat from neighbors during the high season, SPA area, restaurant and reception.
  • Condo houses without managing company or with a low support fee, collected by condo owners. This is, perhaps, the least problematic type of property in Bansko. Such type of housing is based on more transparent scheme of spending support fees. A person, who is responsible for collecting and spending support money, can be easily met «on the street» and asked about his duties.

3. Management сompany

A company which provides management support for the building have to be selected by the general meeting of owners. Such company, as a rule, is a legal organization, collecting support taxes on bank account. However, the tricks of management companies is worthy of a separate paragraph. Be careful, if they are offering you a discount if you'll pay in cash, because you couldn't prove in court, that you really did the payment.

Managing companies are very fond of taking «non-payers» to court, to collect «missing funds» in various ways. While you are at homeland, your property may be seized by court or sold at auction, where the management company will be able to buy it «for peanuts».

Moreover, the property developer is usually sells to private owners no more than 40% of the building/hotel area. Mainly, because he needs to have the majority on votes at all the meetings. So, he is hiring his own company for the management support and collects money from all the private owners without doing anything for building repairs. Except probably light bulbs changing, certainly during the high season, to let you notice that management «is care». As a result, the hotel is decayed, but the developer is enriched with management taxes.

An example of bad management. Bansko Royal Towers hotel. Before and after

Since it takes several years, the owners of private apartments are disappointed: they annually send payments for a total amount from 50 000 to 1000 000 € (!!!), but the building collapsing. It’s scary to enter into the SPA area, the ceiling is flowing, the tile has peeled off. So, they stop to pay. In this case the developer, who is also a manager, take them to court for non-payment. As a result, the owners are looking for a quick way to sell their apartments, which brought so much trouble and go to the real estate agency. Thus, new owners come on their place, fresh and naive, ready to enrich the developer. That is why the property market in Bansko does not stand still, and the prices are gradually dropping in parallel with buildings decay.

Besides, management company can rent out your room, while you are abroad. And when you'll come to find out who lived in the apartment in your absence, they will tell you «ништо не знам» (I know nothing bulg.) and give you the bill for water and electricity spent. And if you'll refuse to pay, they switch off the electricity.

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