Bulgarian property survey

Before buying a property in Bulgaria it is advisable to have a survey carried out, which will give you information about the physical condition of the property, any major repairs which are needed, obvious structural faults, and perhaps an overview of any repairs that might be needed to bring the property up to modern standards (e.g. installing electricity, water and heating systems).

rural house in Bulgaria

In the UK most people are familiar with a survey being carried out for mortgage purposes. This involves no more than a visit to confirm that the property is worth the value of the mortgage. The next level up is to have an intermediate survey, which will delve more into the physical condition of the building, finally a full structural survey will involve a fully qualified building surveyor looking into every nook and cranny, and giving you a full written report. A written survey can be provided in Bulgaria and is normally referred to as a structural survey, though they can vary widely. There are no standard surveys for house buyers in Bulgaria. Ask your Bulgarian real estate agent to appoint a qualified engineer or architect to produce some form of written report, which should:

•  confirm the plot size.
•  confirm the house area and room sizes.
•  give the condition of the house foundations.
•  give the condition of the house walls and floors.
•  give the condition of the house ceilings.
•  explain the basic construction method of the house.
•  list details of any cracks or indications of damp or damage in the ground level or roof of the house.
•  find out the condition of basic systems – water and electrics including the heating system.
• find out about any deformations, subsidence or movement.
•  recommend repairs needed for all above elements.

The report should be signed off by the qualified person who has carried out the report, and translated for you. It should cost around €450 for a full structural survey. Most Bulgarian property buyers choose a simple inspection visit with only a verbal report, which can cost around €75.

The above sets out best practice, and there will be many people along the way advising you to cut corners. Very often people buy a property in Bulgaria because they fall in love with a house and its surroundings, giving only an afterthought to its actual condition. This is fine, but it’s worth a few hundred pounds on top of the purchase price to know what you’re getting into. The report will form the basis of any subsequent renovation and reconstruction works, so it is money well spent. The survey is also an excellent negotiating tool when making an offer or negotiating a price. If significant repair works are noted by the surveyor, you can try to get the seller to knock a few hundred or thousand euros off the price.

A local surveyor has the advantage of knowing the style of buildings in your area and what problems to look out for. There are several vernacular styles of traditional buildings – the tall stone houses of the Rhodope mountains differ greatly from the stone and earth buildings of the central Stara Planina mountains. A local surveyor will know what to look out for and how easy it is to remedy any problems.

Local knowledge is also important to understand the ground conditions, which are often the cause of subsidence (or earthquakes).

Which Nationalities Are Buying Property in Bulgaria?

According to recent research, the top five nationalities buying property in Bulgaria are the British, with 55 per cent of purchases, followed by the Irish with 18 per cent. Behind this are the Dutch (5 per cent), Americans (3 per cent), Germans (2.5 per cent) and Italians (2.5 per cent). So the property invasion is definitely a British-led phenomenon, reflecting the importance of property investment to the average Briton. The overall northern European dominance is likely to reflect the value that buyers place on a warm climate.

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