Preparation to travel to Bulgaria

Understanding the System

The system of buying and selling a property in Bulgaria is different from that in the UK, but the basic principles remain the same. Properties are listed for sale on the market, you go on viewings with an agent and you select the property you like. The agent then co-ordinates all aspects of the purchase. This model can vary, of course: some people choose a property off-plan (before it is built), and they may or may not even have seen the place where the development is being built. Others buy a finished property online without having seen it, and sometimes without ever having visited the region or even the country. Sometimes the developers sell directly and organize all the legal work involved in the property buying procedure.

The most important thing to remember is that you should seek independent legal advice, or have absolute trust in the person appointing a lawyer for you. Very common practice is to use the legal services of the Bulgarian real estate agent that is mediating for the purchase. That is proven to work fine as long as you are using a well established agent with long experience on the Bulgarian property market.

house in Balchik

Bulgaria’s entry into the EU has provided some safeguards, but until very recently EU citizens – like all other foreigners – have had to set up a limited company in order to own a property with land in Bulgaria. At present this rule has been relaxed only for EU citizens who are legally residing in Bulgaria, i.e. the changes do not apply if the property is to be a holiday home only, however there is no active law which says that foreign citizens are allowed to own land in Bulgaria as physical persons so for now registering a limited company in Bulgaria when you are buying land is obligatory.

For apartments in Bulgaria, setting up a company is not necessary, but since Bulgaria does not have a freehold or leasehold system for apartments you will need to check very carefully what is being offered to you. Does the apartment include rights on common parts or outside space? Who will own and control the land around the block? These are questions you should have answers to before purchasing. There is also an option to buy the ideal part of the land that comes with the apartment but you need to register a company to do so. When buying an apartment in Bulgaria the best and most common practice is to buy the apartment and be granted the right to use and build on the ideal part of the land that comes with it.

There are also stories of people being sold houses in Bulgaria that do not have proper planning permission, where there are incorrect boundaries and improper ownership rights. Normally such deals could not go trough the notary as they should not pass the paperwork check so they are quite rare. Although these are fairly rare -and are often the result of mistakes rather than malice a good lawyer should be able to alert you before you hand over any money. That is where the real estate agent comes handy, using a reputable Bulgarian property agent guarantees that you will not have such troubles and the buying process will go trough smoothly.

It is risky to purchase a property or even to make a down-payment if you have not seen the plot of land or visited the spot where the development will be. The location of a property is just as important as the property itself.

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