A few years ago, I was asked if I was interested in investing in a property hotspot – Bulgaria. Friends had been skiing in Bansko and it seemed to be the next big thing. Some websites make it sound great.
I declined for a number of reasons. First, it is a long way to go and check up on it. Second, the investment is not in a currency I have any control of. Thirdly, I was slightly worried about the political arena. Finally, that I didn’t speak the language or understand fully their legal system.
It seems today that the Mail on Sunday has picked up a story about some unfortunate Britons who have got themselves caught up in a dispute over their investments. They have parted with cash, but are effectively locked out of their own developments. Apparently 70 families have paid more than £6million for apartments two years ago but have still not yet been able to gain access.
I have every sympathy with these investors, this is usually hard earned cash involved and losing £200,000 (as one investor has) is sickening.
I will be at MIPIM in two weeks time – selling Nottingham to the world market. I weas reflecting this morning on what we have to offer. I accept that the headline story about Bulgaria might just be one bad apple; we too have our fair share (see this story in the very same newspaper about Grant Bovey’s proposed bankruptcy). Overseas investors will have to consider the geographical location of their investments. But in general terms I think the UK has a much safer offer for investors in property.
Our market, whilst not perfect, is relatively transparent. Our economy is having difficulties, but we will come through this recession – as we have done before. Our political leaders may leave something to desire, but I am not sure we have widespread corruption. If I have doubts about the politics, I have more faith in our legal system – especially in property.
In Bulgaria, the flats concerned have been ‘sold’ to a company called Zekom. When British investors complained about being denied entry to their apartments, Zecom wrote to them: ‘All issues are to be resolved under Bulgarian law. This means only one thing – God Help You.’
I am glad I didn’t fall for the hype – easy in hindsight! I wouldn’t fancy my chances in a Bulgarian Court.
I can go to MIPIM to sell Nottingham with a clear conscience.