The Pitfalls of Buying Property in Bulgaria
Taking the plunge and buying in Bulgaria,? Read on to avoid being ripped off
Everyone loves a bargain, and you might think that you are getting one by buying a cheap property in Bulgaria, but are you really? Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your buying experience in Bulgaria
Property and land prices are cheap compared to western Europe and other holiday destinations, so cheap in fact, that it's hard to stop yourself at times. Take a quick glance on Ebay and you'll see properties in Bulgaria being sold at very low prices. Most come with a fairly large garden (unless you are buying an apartment) and are in rural areas. Price depends on the region, condition of the house, amount of land and facilities within the locality, but not always in that order. Choose your area wisely, remember it's all about location. You can always change the décor or layout of a house, but you can't change where it is.
Always view properties with more than one estate agent, as presently there are no laws or regulations covering estate agents and some are most definitely better than others. You can legally buy a property without an agent and sometimes get a much better deal direct with the owner and avoid paying any commissions. Property law in Bulgaria has changed and you no longer need to form a company to buy regulated land or property if you are a foreigner, so don't let anyone try to con you by saying you have to form a company. Some estate agents have been known to "Bump" up the price and pocket the difference so if you are worried the seller is not getting the full amount make sure to ask for the true purchase price (and not tax price) to be on the contract and sale paperwork for the Notary.
Buying without an agent is not as hard as it seems. Firstly, you would need to find out about properties for sale in the area you are interested in - the local Mayor or Kmet should be able to help if asked. Then using a translator, if needed, speak to the owner(s) and agree on a price. The owners then have to make sure there is no outstanding debt on the property and apply to the local municipality for an up to date skitza (deed). You should find a reputable, independent lawyer to make sure the paperwork is all in order and then, with a translator, all parties go to a Notary to sign the deal. Payment is usually by bank draft and the property is yours. You will also need to pay property tax, a sale tax and any other costs incurred. Once the correct forms have been handed in at the municipality to declare the sale and new owner then legally everything should be correct. Remember that if you put a deposit on a property you then have 28 days to complete or you may lose that 10% deposit.
Research is the key to finding the best properties in Bulgaria. Spending the extra few hours reading reviews, websites and as much information as you can will help to prepare you. If at all possible visit the area you have chosen at different parts of the day and during winter and summer. Can you cope with the extremes of weather Bulgaria can get? From 40 Degrees C in the summer, no rain for weeks and relentless sunshine, to possibly -30 Degrees C in the winter, snow and the chance that you may get stuck at home until the weather clears or the snowplow gets round. Find out if the area you have chosen has a doctor, dentist or school, if there's a regular bus service and if possible ask how many people live in the village full time all year round.
Think about what would happen if you needed to quickly get back to your country of birth for example if a family member becomes ill. How far away is the closest airport and how accessible is it? Driving for 3 to 4 hours to the airport may not seem much,but add on the flying time and any other travel and you could be looking at a much longer journey. Also if family and friends are going to come and visit you for holidays it is easier to be closer to a major airport.
If you are up to a challenge, keen to learn new things and a yearning to explore a new culture and country then Bulgaria may be the right place for you.