We are going to guide you just how easy it is for foreigners to buy a property in Bulgaria, what the buying process is, and some pitfalls to avoid. In most cases, you could be the proud owner of a new home here in just a few short weeks. So, let’s find out how.
The law regarding buying a property in Bulgaria.
The law regarding buying a property in Bulgaria is very straightforward. European Union citizens or citizens of the European Economic Area can buy both the property and the land it sits upon. Non-EU residents can buy property but not the land.
If you are moving from the European Union, the home buying process is straightforward, and you can buy a property and land in your own name. But what do you need to do if you are moving to Bulgaria from outside the European Union?
Process of buying a land in Bulgaria.
The first thing you need to do when buying a house in Bulgaria is to form a company because the property must be registered to a company, not an individual. However, you don’t need to form a company if you are buying an apartment, as usually, no land is part of the sale. At first, the process may sound a little daunting, but it’s really not, and most real estate agents will help you through it.
How to setup a company in Bulgaria.
To set up a company, you will need a valid passport for each owner of the company, an address for correspondence (which must be a Bulgarian address, and often the real estate agent can provide you with a temporary address), and a unique company name. The actual name is not crucial; it’s just for purchasing a home. Your real estate agent will take care of setting up your company.
Here’s what will happen: they will take copies of your passport and your address to a lawyer, who will prepare the necessary paperwork to register your new company, a process that takes only an hour or two. The completed paperwork is then taken to a notary, who will confirm your identity.
Next, you will need to open a business bank account and deposit a minimal nominal sum. You will also need to order a company stamp, which costs around 20 euros. The lawyer will then take all your documentation and present it to the court for them to approve your company setup. The registration of your company can take between 5 to 60 days, and while your company is being formed, you can search for your new home on Realistimo.com.
The process of buying a home in Bulgaria.
So, how does the home buying process work in Bulgaria? Buying a home here, from start to finish, can take a matter of weeks. Don’t worry about not understanding what is going on; there will always be a translator present during any official dealings. You will need to pay for the translator, but they usually cost about 20 euros.
Once you have found your ideal home, you will be asked to sign a preliminary contract and pay a deposit of about 10% of the asking price. Ensure you fully understand the contract, and that the amount you’ve paid is clearly stated. The real estate agent then takes the property off the market.
The seller has to provide a plan of the property called “skitsca,” proof that there are no outstanding taxes or debts on the property, the deeds of the property, and the government valuation of the property to the lawyer, who will ensure that everything is present and correct.
Once the lawyer is satisfied with the paperwork, they will be forwarded to the notary. The notary will then change the property into your company name. Once the paperwork is completed, the seller and the buyer go to the notary office to complete the sale. This is when you transfer the rest of the sum to the seller. The notary then arranges for the paperwork to go to courts and government agencies to register the property in your name.
A day or so later, you go back and collect the paperwork, which is now in your company name. The notary will have notified the municipality of the change of ownership because you will now be liable for the property tax due every March. You must then go to the water and electricity companies to register as the new owner.
Aside from the purchase price, there are some other fees you need to know about, which are a percentage of the selling price. The property transfer tax varies between 1% and 4%, notary fees range from 1% to 2.5%, registration fees are 0.5%, estate agent fees vary between 2.5% and 5%, but usually around 3%, and translator fees cost around 15 to 25 euros. In total, expect to pay between 5% and 12% of the selling price in buying costs.
Of course, these are average figures and will depend on the region you are buying in and the additional services that you have hired your real estate agent for. For peace of mind and ease of buying a property in Bulgaria, the agent fees represent excellent value for money.
What you need to know about buying a home in Bulgaria.
So, what else do you need to know about buying a home in Bulgaria? Properties are advertised by square meters and the total number of rooms, not the number of bedrooms. When buying an apartment, the square footage may include common areas, which are not suitable for living purposes.
Negotiating the property price is normal, so don’t be afraid to haggle. Most property transactions take place by bank transfer. Cash payments are limited to about 5,000 euros, and all amounts above this sum must go through a bank.
People tend to buy property in Bulgaria without a mortgage, but your real estate agent will help you arrange one if you need it. Some agents advertise in euros and some in other currencies, while the notary may only work in the local currency. Be sure you know which currency is being discussed.
When buying a brand new property in Bulgaria, ensure that it has been given an act 16. This shows that the building has passed all necessary assessments and is fit for habitation. It’s not unusual for a new build to be sold with only an act 14, which means the building is in a construction state or act 15, indicating it’s complete but not yet ready for habitation. Seek advice when buying a brand new home.
Other than that, apply common sense as you would when buying a new place in your home country. Take your time to visit lots of different regions, towns, and villages. Each offers something different and unique. And never buy a property without viewing it first. Generally, you get what you pay for, so if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Always hire a reputable real estate agent. Get recommendations from other experts via social media or expert forums before choosing who to partner with. There are excellent investment opportunities in Bulgaria, with major cities and the Black Sea region offering good rental potential, as do the ski resorts. Village homes, though steadily rising in value, tend to be older and less attractive to investors but offer a peaceful way of life and are a great place to live.
Then there are the cities, which are just as cosmopolitan and vibrant as any found in Europe. No matter what type of property you want, what lifestyle you want to lead, or what environment you wish to live in, you will find your dream home in Bulgaria.
In summary, buying and investing in real estate in Bulgaria can be a smooth process if you follow the right steps. From forming a company to navigating the legalities, having a reliable real estate agent by your side is crucial. Keep in mind the various fees involved, and don’t hesitate to negotiate the property price.
Remember, the diverse regions in Bulgaria offer unique opportunities, so explore different areas before making a decision. Whether you’re interested in the bustling cities, serene villages, or scenic ski resorts, Bulgaria has something for everyone.
Stay informed, take your time, and always prioritize a thorough property viewing. With the right precautions, you’ll find that Bulgaria is not only a beautiful country but also a promising destination for real estate investment.