In 2005 and 2006, in the run-up to Bulgaria's joining the EU, overseas investment was coming thick and fast from money-hungry investors expecting an overnight boom in their property values as soon as Bulgaria shook hands with the European Union.
Of course we now know that was not the case. Prices did rise, but few people understood the long-term process of Bulgaria joining the EU and what it meant.
After years of bringing itself up to speed with rules, regulations and infrastructure, Bulgaria finally joined the EU in 2007. Since then it has had targets it has been required to meet in order to complete the full transition into Europe.
One is the seven-year transition phase. This means a country is given seven years from joining the EU until all EU rules, quotas and regulations have to be met and it is not until this completion that growth will truly be seen.
One example is that at present it is already easy to purchase land and property in Bulgaria but it still required that a Bulgarian company be formed first. This can put potential investors off as not only does it cause an additional cost that can be quite sizeable, but it can lead to doubt in an investor's mind as to where the true ownership of their property lies.
The fact of the matter is that the requirement for a Bulgarian company is just a formality and really affects nothing, but the reality suggests that up to 40% of people have been put off investing in Bulgaria just for this reason.
This is one of the last major hurdles that the EU are getting rid of. By 2014, Bulgaria must meet all the standard EU rules and regulations that the rest of Europe have to abide by. This will include non-Bulgarian citizens being able to buy land or property without having to set up a Bulgarian company to buy land. In theory, this would mean an additional 40% demand from those who previously felt uncomfortable with the rule.
Bulgaria joining the EU is also likely to mean an increase in land and property values over the coming years. As meeting EU regulations often incurs more costs and expenses it inevitably means these costs are passed onto the sale value -- meaning land and property values can quickly rise simply due to increasing costs, regardless of the law of supply and demand.
Bulgaria joining the EU also means that improvements in infrastructure such as roads and connections to main towns and villages need to be made. Again, this can mean an increase in land and property values as places become more accessible and appealing.
So Bulgaria actually joined the Union in 2007, but the transition will not be fully complete until 2014. This means that there is still a small window to buy land and property at highly competitive prices. There is every chance that these values will steadily increase over the coming years.
Bulgaria being part of the EU should also mean that overall standards and practices increase and improve, including things such as building regulations, infrastructure and legal processes.
Bulgaria has already experienced a boom and bust due to short-term investors. However, it is now showing very promising signs of once again becoming the hidden gem of the EU when it comes to land and property investment.