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When Shares Fail, Bank on Bansko
Updated: 2007-09-07

When Shares Fail, Bank on Bansko

Views and Records
By Max Davidson

The Daily Telegraph

I've done it! I've finally done it! I said I'd never do it. I said I was strong. I said I was sensible. I said wild horses wouldn't make me do anything so crazy. I said it was the kind of thing only suckers did.

But then, one wet and windy Wednesday, I suddenly weakened. And here I am - the proud owner of a small piece of foreign real estate.

Yes, there is some corner of a foreign land that is forever England and, in my case, it is a yet-to-be-finished studio apartment in an upmarket ski lodge in Bansko, Bulgaria. Remember Bansko?

A couple of years ago, you couldn't move at overseas property exhibitions for people whispering "Bansko" in your ear.

Bulgarian property, said the snake-oil salesmen, was a snip, too good to miss. The country was about to enter the EU, ergo property prices were about to rocket, the way they had in other new EU-entrants such as Estonia and the Czech Republic.

As for Bansko, the top Bulgarian ski resort, it couldn't miss, could it? British skiers were DESPERATE for somewhere they could go without spending a fortune. Gilt-edged buy-to-let opportunity, fast capital growth, blah blah.

I visited Bansko a year ago, and it was like a Gold Rush town, with estate agents instead of prospectors. I thought of trying to get a slice of the action, dithered, thought better of it.

Then, this summer, the whispering started again: "Bansko...

Bansko... Bansko..." I had a small sum to invest and was terrified by the yo-yo-ing on the stock market. My mind flew back to 1999, when I last had money to invest. I took professional advice, bought stocks and shares, but would have been better off leaving the money under my mattress. Never again.

So when a horribly plausible woman called Lucy started singing the praises of a new development in Bansko, I was easy meat for her blandishments. I went to visit her in her offices in Hertfordshire and was wooed with coffee, chocolates, vu-graphs and sales figures.
They were all so seductive - particularly the chocolates.

"What sort of ski season did Bansko have last year?" I asked, desperately trying to focus on the essentials.

"Well, to be quite frank," said Lucy, lowering her voice, "it didn't get much snow at all. Mainly rain."

Scary or what? I had imagined letting my apartment to skiers, not water skiers. I would have to gamble on the weather, not just the Bulgarian economy.

"Don't do it!" screamed the voice of sanity in my ear.

But two weeks on, I'm glad I ignored that voice, took the plunge and wrote Lucy a fat cheque.

If nothing else, it'll be an adventure - an adventure on which so many Britons are embarking that I'd feel a wimp not joining them. So watch this space.

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