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Don’t Buy A Property In Bulgaria Without Reading This First

Bulgaria – it’s the land of 40p a pint beer and hundred pound houses.  It’s enough to make you book your flights now.

But, hold up – remember the saying: “If it sounds too good to be true…”

So let’s look at the truth of buying in Bulgaria and get some hot insider tips.  As I’ve yet to buy a Bulgarian bolthole, I interrogated New Estate who are leading estate agents in Bulgaria for their local expertise.

You Are Not A Lottery Winner

Buying property in Bulgaria

With prices being so cheap in Bulgaria, you can feel a rush of affordability that usually only lottery winners experience.  Sudden excessive affordability, much like sudden wealth, plays strange tricks on the mind.  Low, low prices can make you feel empowered.  But the worst buys are those which are motivated “because it’s cheap”.  Cheap beer is fine for a while, it may make your wee a funny colour and maybe even whirl your tummy some, but it will pass.  Same as cheap food – it all comes out the same end, in the end.  Taking that same cheap approach to property doesn’t really follow the same rules, apart from the fact; it will be sh*t in the end

So, repeat this mantra after me: Cheap does not mean good.

Bulgarian property may be cheaper than the UK – but everything is relative.  Properties should be analyzed for what they have to offer – not how cheap the price tag is.

Dreams Can Come True

buying property in bulgaria

The high property prices of the UK can put a dampener on the wildest of dreams.  But in Bulgaria, the cheapness of making dreams a reality is there for the taking.  The caveat:  This is Bulgaria.  That means you have to make Bulgaria the right place for you and your dreams – not just the cheapest place for you to make your dreams a reality.  For those who understand this, the opportunities to fulfil lifelong ambitions are there for the making, and the taking.

Success is measured in enjoyment rather than property value.  Relief from high mortgage repayments can bring untold happiness and release.  However, you need to have a clear plan of what you want to achieve and acknowledge life will be different – this is not the UK.  But for those who dream – dreams can become a reality.

Most Estate Agents Are Scam Artists

buying property in bulgaria

Famished mosquitoes are a major problem.  As are many Bulgarian estate agents, otherwise known as Money Fleecers.  Professional, charming and using every tactic in the high-pressurised sales’ agent hand book, these agents know how to flick every switch.  And how to get you to part with your hard earned money.

Think the property you’re looking at is popular with so many viewers?  It’s most likely the rest of the so-called ‘viewers’ are unfathomably good actors ever present to hype up interest in a property.  And if you think you’ve been let in on a cunning “secret” 20% VAT claim back scheme – join the rest of the “secret” scammed queue.  That’ll be the one over there that the Bulgarian treasury is chasing.  And now it’s payback time.

Been asked to pay in advance to sell or buy a property?  Run.  Vendors may be in shock at the current fall in prices, but no professional agents charge fees in advance.  The property market works much like in the UK with commission being paid upon sale completion.

Cash Is King

buying property in bulgaria

Bulgarian mortgage buyers can take up to four months to present funds – which is a long time when you have a distressed vendor needing a quick sale.  Cash buyers usually complete in 6-8 weeks and can pick up some rich pickings in return.  A flat in Sofia has recently been sold for just 30,000e when an identical flat was going through the sale process at 51,000e.  The only difference – the cheaper one had a distressed vendor and a cash buyer.  The sale went through in just three weeks and the flat will rent for 270 e/ pcm.  Opportunities exist for those with cash – and a trusted estate agent.

Snails Move Faster

buying property in bulgaria

In the UK, buying and selling property happens pretty sharpish.  Not so in Bulgaria.  Property in Bulgaria is pretty illiquid.  Sofia is Europe’s 15th largest city with 1.25 million people and 607,000 homes, but just 3% of these were sold in 2012.  That is just 18,166 sales.  Movement is less common and less affordable.  Properties can sit for extremely long periods of time on agents’ books, not because of price – but because of low demand.

Multiple Owners Are Best Avoided

buying property in bulgaria

Clear title is king when it comes to buying property in Bulgaria.  It is best to avoid anything that has multiple owners as the purchase will be subject to all them agreeing – and that doesn’t just mean two or three people.  A house New Estate tried to sell seven years ago had a colossal 24 inheritors for the 15,000e property.  This meant each and every owner had to attend the notary’s office at the same time to agree to the sale.  As many family members had not seen each other in years, old family arguments reared their heads.  The property sale turned into a full-on fight, was not sold and is still for sale to this day with each family member still owning 1/24th!

Agency Fees Can Seem Disproportionate

buying property in bulgaria

Agency fees can look disproportionately high when compared to the value of the sale.  It is not uncommon to pay around 2,500e to sell a property of 50,000e.  That translates to around 5%, which when compared to the usual UK rate of 1-2% on much higher value properties, can seem a huge chunk of such a low value.  However the reality is, in Bulgaria, agents still have comparable running costs and because of the low value of the property, higher fees need to be charged for agents to remain in business.

Tax Doesn’t Have To Be Taxing

buying property in bulgaria

Notary fees and taxes are the Bulgarian equivalent of Stamp Duty and it applies to all transfer of property.  It is a varying percentage of the declared sale value which is 4-5% state fees.  Unlike the UK there are no price brackets.  Take note – in the domestic market these fees are often split 50:50 but when a foreigner is buying, they usually pay 100%.

If you sell a property in Bulgaria and you have a switched-on agent, it should be declared as your single and sole Bulgarian residence.  Done this way, there is no Capital Gains tax to pay.  Any subsequent property sold in the same year will attract around 10% tax on any profit made.  The rule of thumb: sell one property per year tax free.

You Don’t Need A Solicitor

buying property in bulgaria

In Bulgaria, you don’t actually need a solicitor to represent you for the sale or purchase of property.  The state licenses government solicitors, notaries, who oversee every transaction.  Without a notary’s inspection of the deal and final consent, no transfer of ownership is possible.  In 90% of transactions, no additional solicitor is involved beyond the notary.  Unusually, anyone can prepare the conveyancing for a property in Bulgaria – which means you can even do it yourself!

You Will Need A Power Of Attorney

buying property in bulgaria

Unless you live in Bulgaria full-time, you will need a Power of Attorney (PoA) to buy and sell property.  The PoA is an elected representative who can act on your behalf and is an individual who is specifically appointed and named on the PoA documents.  The PoA you sign is critical and must be read extremely carefully – it is an official instruction and supersedes all prior agreements.  The PoA should contain the gross sale or purchase figure.  If it does not include these, it is an ‘unlimited PoA’.  This basically means your representative can sell your property for any amount they decide and then transfer any amount they feel like.

Solicitors Are Not To Be Trusted

buying property in bulgaria

Bulgarian solicitors operate in what is best described as the Wild West of law.  Solicitors regularly “steal” properties and cut agents out of deals to sell to their own clients, often at much reduced prices.  The legal clout of a solicitor means many vendors trust their solicitor over their estate agent.  That means if a solicitor informs a vendor their buyer has backed out (even if they didn’t) many believe the solicitor over the agent.  What often follows, is the solicitor will then market the property for a reduced price gaining both sales commission and legal fees.  In many cases an ‘unlimited PoA’ has been signed – which means it’s also legal.

Buy With An Eye On The Future

buying property in bulgaria

What you see today in Bulgaria – is most likely not what you will see in years to come – especially when buying in Sofia.  Understanding future infrastructure plans is critical to buying in the right location.  Convenience is king.  Massive infrastructure projects are redeveloping whole swathes of the city including new ring roads, metro stations and regenerated boulevards.

Making money from property in Bulgaria is about spotting area potential and buying in the right location.  The individual property matters far less than the actual location of the property.  It is a case of macro over micro.  Forget what you can do to a property – look ahead and see what the government is doing to the area – this will add far more value than you ever can.  Consider how active the local mayor is and research the investment being spent.

Foreign Can Be A Better Buy

buying property in bulgaria

Buying local usually offers the best deals, however when it comes to Bulgarian property, buying foreign can be a better buy.  Foreign owned property tends to be better maintained with superior quality fixtures and fittings.  Surprisingly, foreign owned property is also often cheaper to buy.  The simple economics are that foreigners can afford to sell for less.  A price drop of 2-3,000e on a property means much less to a foreigner than a local person where 2-3,000 could be a year’s salary.  Plus, a foreign owner usually wants ‘out’ whereas a local owner is rarely motivated to sell under pressure and will happily wait years for a buyer.

Difference Should Be Expected, Accepted And Looked For

accept_the_diffebuying property in bulgariarence_by_benheine-d49ema5

Bulgaria is like many southern European cultures who like to socialise every night of the week – and weekend!  The lack of traffic, long commutes and need to be in the office allows for a more relaxed style of life.

Foreigners are embraced and often adored into Bulgarian culture.  Post communism introduced choices to the Bulgarians for the first time since World War II, and even after 24 years of democracy, people still desire things that are not Bulgarian.  That means difference is accepted and yearned for.  People are generally keen to know more about other cultures and welcome an opportunity to talk, eat and drink with foreigners.  Learning to live successfully in Bulgaria is about getting stuck in with the locals rather than just herding with other expats.

The Future Can Be Bright

buying property in bulgaria

Things will not work like they do in the UK.  The Bulgarian authority’s processes are often illogical and bureaucratic.  The roads are bad and the drivings’ even worse.  But if you want a country with potential, and are prepared to wait for the infrastructure to come, then Bulgaria could well be your place.

50 comments
  1. Simon Topple

    Also the comment about clean title applies to mortgages.

    You cannot sell a mortgaged property without a legal two-step.

    First contract of sale is for the mortgage balance.

    Second is for the balance of the purchase price.

    Plus you will need to trust your solicitor for this!!!

  2. A Bulgarian

    I just needed to confirm that all the British people are totally welcome here and we help them with whatever we can and we do really enjoy talking with you people, you are awesome!

  3. Bulgarian Girl

    Pretty superficial article!!! Far away from truth! Scam agencies/agents or whatever exist everywhere even in England I’ve been scamed myself three times since I live in London so I may consider writing a book soon “Don’t Go There!” It should be mentioned that the cheap prices does not come from bad quality but the difference of the standart! “wee in a funny colour” ? Probably you need to reduce the amount you drink. If you live in BG the prices are commensurable with those in UK. 9 houses has been bought in my grondmother’s village in the last two years from UK families seeing a chance for better life…seeing beyond the bad roads. And I would say hundred of reasons you SHOULD buy a property in Bulgaria but firstly you need smarter approach just simply watch, read and listen carefully what you’re buying! NOT only property, NOT only in Bulgaria! Yes, you may have better quality of life but Bulgarian people can give you in depth knowledge of how to be hospitable without being double-dealer.

    1. Sam

      Thanks for your comments. This post was intended to be a broad overview for people who are thinking about buying property in Bulgaria so it is just a start point. I would love to hear more of your reasons why you should buy in Bulgaria. I have been several times to different parts (city and countryside) and I think it’s a great place with lovely people (and great food!).

    2. Louise

      I must ad to my post that I understand I was unfortunate with the agent and my ignorance led me to buy the wrong properties and yes absolutely scammers and tricksters are everywhere! I don’t think the author of the post meant it is only Bulgaria where things can go wrong, he was pointing out some truths that are relevant to UK buyers coming to BG an dbeing astounded at the cheap prices. Even though I had a bad experience with my properties ( long story but it got a lot worse but I still LOVE Bulgaria and intend to live there very soon once I find the right house) I won’t feel happy until I am there, living a simple life, appreciating the natural beauty and having time to enjoy my life in the clean, fresh air in the mountains and beside the sea. I hav etravelled far and wide and Bulgaria has my heart.

  4. Bulgarian Homeowner

    I live full time in the UK and am British. I’ve personally bought a property in Bulgaria for under £2,000 and personally I think it was a bargain and found it far less stressful than purchasing property in the UK. My property had 4 owners but what they did was sign a POA to the agent, so only one person was required to be present in the Notary office on behalf of the vendors when selling to me. Bulgaria is a beautiful country and the people are lovely, our neighbours have offered us help from the first day they met us.
    http://housesunder2k.tk

  5. Gary

    The real estate agency called premium properties bulgaria are constantly cheating their buyers by quoting the prices in Euros but paying the owners in bulgarian currency lev which is twice cheap. The difference they pocket with thanks
    All my attempts to panish them in Bulgaria failed
    Thus i need to warn all foreign buyers of this scam

    1. Kathy Norton

      We have had a real problem with this company and are looking to see if any one else has been stung by them . Any info would be really helpful and we would not recommend them as an agent especially for renovation work.

  6. Sandra Smith

    I’ve 2 houses in Bulgaria & have been trying to sell for 3 yrs as had to go back to UK with family as they split up & I dident want to live on my own there, but I wondered if I could sell cheap or give to government in Bulgaria as I’m fed up trying to sell, but don’t know how to go about it I’ve googled a lot got no were, any ideas we’d be welcome, I liked living there lovely people & beautiful views from my house it was great very sad. Thanks

    1. Mohinder Yadav

      Dear Sandra,Hi ! I am interested in buying property in Bulgaria.
      Please provide me more details of the Property.
      My WhatsApp No.is +971-50-7150174

    2. tia

      Always possible to sell at the right price that a buyer sees as a good deal, providing they are in the right location of interest to a buyer too……

      You can transfer properties to anyone in Bulgaria but the gov wont pay you for them (and probably wont actually want them unless you can find an authority that is running a project to regenerate the area they are located in and can make use of them)

      let me know if I can help at all with you offering them for sale and where they are – I have a website http://livinginbulgaria.com

  7. Spar

    Hi Everyone,

    We own unregulated land in Obzor and have contacted BGP and Bulgarian Properties several times to ask about selling the land.

    Neither company answered my emails. Please would someone out there let me know how I can sell this land, I’d really appreciate any insight and any information if you’ve also tried to sell your land recently.

    1. Rachel

      You could try eBay but to be honest agricultural land is worth very little and it is expensive to get change of use permission and may not be granted at all now. Let me know more details and price you want for it and will see if it is of interest to us as we are looking for somewhere to put a caravan, so does not need to be regulated. However, we would ideally want it very close to the sea.

    2. Rachel

      Let me know more details and price you want for it and will see if it is of interest to us as we are looking for somewhere to put a caravan, so does not need to be regulated. However, we would ideally want it very close to the sea.

    3. Louise

      Bulgarian properties never answered my emails either when I was trying to sell a house in Varna. Very odd as they have loads listed. I hate it when people don’t reply, so unprofessional. I bet they would have replied if I had written to offer on a house,

  8. Rachel

    Some of information not quite correct. You cannot just buy a house and claim it is your principle residence for tax reasons unless it actually is. You need to show you actually live there, have no other main property, have a Bulgarian residency card of some sort. Also you cannot sell one property a year without tax unless you have owned it for over 3 years AND you are classified as a Bulgarian tax resident, otherwise you are taxed on any profit in the country where you are tax resident. You can sell 2 a year if owned for over 5 years and Bulgarian tax resident.

  9. Richard Cudlipp

    Checking the age and condition of a property seems like good advice for landlords who are buying investment properties. It seems like buying property that’s really old and hasn’t been updated in a while could mean that a lot of maintenance and renovations are necessary. That would be an important thing investors should keep in mind if they plan on renting their property to tenants.

    Thanks for sharing!!

  10. P

    you forgot the aliens who after you buy your property Come along and strip it of all its value. pipes taps furniture heating etc and your left with an annual tax that you play as you ownd the derelict property that’s no longer lovable, What then?

  11. shola

    I need an agricultural land where I could place a caravan in Bulgaria and my budget is 2,000GBP….anyone who has any offer should let me know please. Thanks.

    1. Rachel

      Lots of plots available, depends on what area you want to buy. Can get very cheap plots in some of the poorer areas, or land can be very expensive if near a good town or city, near the coast, ski resorts etc

  12. Elias

    Guys can a foreigner own a land, cause i’m looking to build my own house but i want to check if foreigners can buy lands. Thank you.

    1. Nathan asgill

      yes you can buy land but first must set up a company also pitfall could be if you own a company file your tax rtns each year even if zero

  13. Arsen

    Hi Rob, what kind of problems have you got with them? Because I’m to have a deal with them, are they serious?
    Thanks

  14. ukgoldbug

    Don’t a property in Bulgaria ever. Sellers and agents are dishonest or incompetent, houses are not what they seem, your stuff will be stolen by the locals who consider you as a target, you won’t be able to sell when you want and all the rules are seemingly designed to part you from money whilst offering you no protection at all. Steer very clear of the place.

  15. yuval

    thank you Sam!

    someone know why all the agents website offer so many cheap lands in Elhovo area?

    maybe it because it is close to Turkey?

    1. dd

      I bought a house with land in Bulgaria. ..i know it can be a little dodgy with some of the stories you hear …but i have to say the Bulgarian neighbours i have never want money they just want to help… i feel sometimes I may have upset them with things I have done in my property and land … but that’s an English man thinking I know best …lol.. The thing that still brings tears to my eyes is when we stayed over therefor a while Iin our old but mortgage free house ..was when we went shopping and left the washing out on the line. It pelted it down with rain when we got back all our washing had gone. At first we laughed and thought the gypsies had stolen them . The next day we went outside and the neighbour brought our washing out to us dried and folded it all neatly ….Now that is true Bulgaria

      1. HR

        Are there any rules about what type of land you can build a house on? I wish to purchase some cheap forest land to run a farm on, but eventually I want to build a house on there and live there. Any advice on this would be brilliant, thanks!

  16. MAJESTIC

    Hi everyone,
    I’m from the UK and I’m thinking of purchasing a property in Bulgaria. Is it as bad as what people say regarding burglaries? As I’d like to purchase a property so my family and I can use it for a holiday home but not worry about being burgled. Also can I purchase a property without attending Bulgaria notary.

  17. Louise

    Lol! I was nearly crying over the first paragraph! I was not a lottery winner but I definitely felt like one! I wish I had read this 8 years ago before I went giddy at the prices of a WHOLE HOUSE and AN ACRE OF LAND! I was putty in the hands of bolshy Bulgarian estate agent who sold me not one but two SHIT houses. He did well that day, he must have been orgasmic himself at my stupidity.

  18. Nigel Christopher Priestley / Sarah louise howard

    Hi Look them up as they as they are also trading as midland asset management operating out of Goosemoor Hall North Road, Newark NG23 6TE the house is hidden behind what looks like a derelict building with security features in a separate enclosure they are trading under the umbrella of a internet company called bid spotter ( who have been informed of their activities } who provide a platform for legitimate auction companies to bid under alongside the fraudulent ones. They are all being investigated.
    who operate on a mobile no and Ask Bulgaria who operate on a 0800 number, who are very involved. check their them out on 192.com. all

  19. Ian Meaden

    Good article. People are still getting into problems because of the differences in all sorts of areas not just the language. We have been helping expats in Bulgaria for a long time and seen it all.
    There are no problems only solutions!
    In our Bulgaria there are also no rip offs.
    Buying property, Applying for residency, Registering a vehicle or just baffled by the system.
    We can save you money, worries, and headaches.
    If you have a problem let us solve it!
    Gabrovo, Veliko Tarnavo, Lovech region mainly.
    Other areas by agreement
    Vesela and Ian
    [email protected]
    [email protected]

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