Archive | June, 2014

Bargains to Be Found As Bulgarian Property Prices Fall

A part of the EU since 2007, Bulgaria balances old and new in an environment where ornate medieval churches, beautiful mosques and villages that have changed little over the centuries co-exist with the contemporary infrastructure of its cities and impressive sea and mountain resorts.

From the snowy peaks of the Balkans and popular hiking trails to the inviting white sands on the Black Sea coast, this small country has a lot to offer. Health conscious and ecologically aware visitors are drawn to the country’s well known therapeutic resorts, mineral springs and organic farms.

From rural farmhouses and cottages in picturesque hills and valleys to modern apartments in historically resonant Sofia and condos and villas in the Black Sea beach resorts, there’s an interesting variety of residential real estate to be found across Bulgaria.

The good thing is that modern properties in Sofia and other cities, in the glitzy Black Sea resorts and the popular ski resorts of Pomporova, Bansko and Borovets in the Balkans as well as charming, old houses in the countryside are generally significantly cheaper than in other countries in the EU.

Attracted by Bulgaria’s unique mix of natural splendor, historical richness and rustic charm as well as the potential for high returns on real estate investments consequent to Bulgaria’s induction into the EU, foreign buyers, particularly from Russia and Britain, flocked to buy properties in the ski resorts and on the coast. Robust economic growth and the easy availability of credit led to an increase in the number of domestic buyers as well. From 2003 to the third quarter of 2008, Bulgaria experienced a real estate boom with prices rising steadily in response to increasing demand. The average price of residential property in Q3 2008 was 1418 euros per sq. m.

Then came the recession and with it a change in market dynamics and sentiment. Demand, both domestic and foreign, dried up and property prices began to fall in the last quarter of 2008 and have been falling ever since. Within the country today, unemployment is high, credit is harder to come by, investment is low as is consumption and government spending has been reduced. With less money to spend and unsure of the future, Bulgarians are reluctant to invest in property. The poor performance of property markets in other countries, the credit crunch and uncertain economic prospects in general have led to a sharp reduction in the number of foreign buyers as well.

On an average, property prices have fallen by a third from their highs; in some locations prices are down by as much as 50%. According to market sources, prices declined by roughly 10% in 2010. The number of transactions, however, was higher in 2010 than in 2009. Analysts expect prices to fall further in 2011, though prices in Sofia and other big cities are likely to stabilise and for the country as a whole, the price regression is expected to slow down. The luxury home segment has not suffered as much and is more impervious to short-term trends.

Sofia is faring better than other parts of the country because unemployment is relatively low and demand for apartments, especially in the south and east of the city, is picking up. In Sofia, the average prices range from 35,000 to 90,000 euros for apartments that measure 50 – 100 sq. m. Domestic buyer interest in other cities has also increased to some extent. In the countryside, demand has not revived and prices continue to fall.

Demand is beginning to improve in some coastal areas and more beach property deals were concluded in 2010 than in 2009. In 2010, the vacation home segment performed better than in 2009 with more foreign buyers, particularly Russians, buying properties along the coast. The number of beach property deals increased by roughly 20% in 2010 as compared with 2009. Buyers are showing interest in buying holiday homes at bargain prices along the northern and southern coasts of the Black Sea.

Revival of the real estate market hinges on positive economic performance. A reduction in unemployment, wage increases and improved credit supply can revitalize demand for real estate. According to analysts, real estate is still a sound long-term investment in Bulgaria. However, potential buyers should survey the market for properties of their choice and consider buying when prices reach a fairly stable level. Many properties in the cities as well as elsewhere are currently available at discounted prices.

What you need to know about property transactions in Bulgaria:

• In Bulgaria, foreign non-residents can buy an apartment, condo or any structure, but not freehold land directly.
• In 2006, the law was amended to permit foreigners to buy and inherit landed property, but the law will come into effect only in 2014.
• EU residents, however, can currently buy land if they have been residing permanently in Bulgaria for several years or if they are self-employed with a permanent residence in Bulgaria and are engaged in some sort of agricultural activity.
• It is possible to acquire land by registering a company in Bulgaria with the potential buyer as sole owner and director.
• Once buyer and seller decide on the price and other particulars, a preliminary agreement is signed and buyer deposits 10% of the property price.
• A title search is conducted.
• Formalities pertaining to company registration are initiated.
• After the property is found to have a clear title and the company has been registered, a “contract of purchase” is signed by the vendor and buyer.
• Buyer pays the balance and receives the keys to the house.

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Starbucks and Mobile Wallets Gain Buy Side Attention

Starbucks, McDonald’s, and other retail companies have responded to customer demand by designing and marketing mobile wallets for their consumers. Mobile Wallet usage by consumers is expected to gain momentum in 2014, and begin to revolutionize the way people buy and pay for everyday purchases at familiar retail outlets. Starbucks is now live with its Square Wallet in 7000 of its stores in the US, and its popularity is driving the mobile wallet market faster than before.

Banks, Visa, Google and many other credit card companies offer wallets, but it has been Starbucks and other retailers who are generating the growth and potential of the mobile wallet. Mobile wallets are not a totally brand new concept. Google came out with its wallet several years ago, however it didn’t have any means of tapping into the retail customer loyalty aspect.

Starbucks is creating the loyalty and the buzz that will drive the mobile wallet into mainstream consumer usage. Starbucks has been offering the mobile wallet for a year now, and it has become a huge success with more and more coffee lovers using this mobile technology every day. Since last year, Starbucks stock value has climbed strongly even with the slowing down of the Chinese economy which was expected to dampen Starbucks growth.

The fact that Starbucks has been able to leverage more US consumer interest via its mobile wallet shows the innovative spirit of a brilliant CEO. Starbucks uses Square, which is a company under Visa’s financial control. Starbucks trendline is a sturdy angle of ascent on a weekly chart and had a strong earnings report October 18, 2013.

Starbucks is working all the angles including hiring veterans and military spouses, Tweet a Coffee which encourages spontaneous gifting on Twitter, and many more heart-tugging consumer loyalty building marketing strategies.

Although SBUX stock chart needs to have a minor correction to pattern out some of the speculation that is occurring in the stock, the company has a leader and a vision that continues to surprise and delight long term investors.

Guidance from Howard Schultz is for a robust fiscal 2014. Everything SBUX is doing is helping to generate more customer loyalty in a crowded retail coffee market, growth in other global markets, strategic vision moving ahead with adopting new technologies early on, and way ahead of its competition as well as other retail companies.

By focusing their efforts in improving customer relationships, SBUX has circumnavigated around the risks of systemic economic troubles in China, built a good foundation in other global markets, and is reestablishing itself as THE coffee company in the US.

Customer satisfaction and loyalty are goodwill items that are priceless to a company. An amazing CEO that has such brilliance is truly rare. This article is explaining the benefits of a great CEO and customer loyalty. The Starbucks Wallet is clearly a huge success and we are going to see many more retailers adopt this strategy soon.

Those retailers who adopt a wallet quickly will have much stronger growth potential than retailers who delay even briefly. The Mobile Wallet is a game changer, and it is a displacement technology.

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The Changing Face of SEO in 2014

Many Search Engine Optimization professionals have been asking whether SEO as a tool to rank websites is dead and for those working in the SEO industry this is a little scary not knowing if our jobs are in jeopardy. In 2013, Google started taking major steps in fighting SPAM, and thus shifted the playing field for all SEO professionals and their clients.

So in 2014, trying to beat your competitors for your keywords and still trying to rank your website high, may be challenging. One this hasn’t changed; you still need quality authority backlinks from existing sites back to yours, as well as quality content with anchor text.

Most SEO experts know that you have to build a solid SEO performance in 2014 with white-hat techniques to continue to built on what we learned in 2013, as well as what these changes mean strategically for SEO.

Content Marketing is Key!

Content marketing will be the key to SEO and professional internet marketing in 2014. From an SEO expert’s perspective, Google will be focusing on companies that have made robust SEO / content marketing efforts in the hopes that this is sign that they are the kind of business Google wants to support.

Advantages to good content strategy:

  1. Regular content targeted to your audience.
  2. Social signals from regular posting and sharing with your audience.
  3. Measurable activity and or signs that your website is growing.
  4. Increasing authority and website page rank connected to your body of work.

If you have specific questions or are looking for help with SEO contact an SEO services expert in your area on anywhere on the web. To help with your search, you should look for terms like “SEO expert” or ” SEO services” or something to that effect.

Get a Google+ Presence!

In addition to strengthening your overall SEO and social media marketing position, it’s going to be absolutely critical that you strongly invest in your Google+ presence.

Establishing Google Authorship of your article content and linking it to your Google+account is a major factor in determining who the major players will be in 2014 as far as SEO goes. Authorship connects your content with Google+ and plays an important role in the SERPs (search engine results pages). In the end you will have strengthened your overall Author Rank.

Those Google+ Ones add up with regular posting of solid original content. It is becoming clearer just exactly how much Google+1′s will directly contribute to the overall ranking of our authorship and page-rank in general. It is actually going to be a major factor in the “social signals” component of Google’s algorithm in 2014. Expect Google+, authorship and quality content to play a major factor in your websites scorecard in 2014.

Summary:

Stay the course with white hat tactics and pay attention to quality content, quality backlinks (links back to your website), guest blogging, in order to improve your organic search engine visibility in 2014.

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