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Bulgaria's real estate trusts attract UK investors

Date: 03.11.2005

Popular television programmes have encouraged thousands of UK investors to buy a holiday apartment on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast or at a ski resort for half the price of a similar property in Spain, the Financial Times reported.

But the country's fledgling real estate market is moving beyond the second-home construction boom.

Bulgaria, which is due to join the European Union by 2008 at the latest, has launched eastern Europe's first US-style real estate investment trust (Reit). These trusts are tax-friendly property funds that have to pay out most of their income to shareholders. The aim is to broaden and deepen the real estate market.

Bulgaria's finance ministry has opted to give up tax revenues in favour of persuading investors to accept professional management of real estate assets. Its Reits legislation, part of financial market reforms launched by a liberal government, is based on similar frameworks in the US and France.

Bulgaria's fledgling Reits market is still too small to attract attention from big international players. But Reits have become popular with Bulgarian pension and mutual funds, as well as increasing numbers of retail investors, according to local brokers.

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