There are three approaches that one can potentially take when buying property in Bulgaria – namely buying off plan property, buying a resale/renovation property or buying the land and building a house yourself.
This article examines the intricacies of the three main ways of buying property in Bulgaria for anyone contemplating making an investment in one of the fastest moving, most popular property investment hotspots in the world currently.
Buying off plan property in Bulgaria
The main piece of advice to impart is that it is essential that anyone buying off plan goes to a reputable developer who has completed projects under his belt and whose previous developments can be inspected for build quality and standard of finish.
As the popularity of the property market in Bulgaria has intensified so have the numbers of people setting up construction companies or even just building a few houses or apartments…not all of these property companies have a good reputation, not all are solvent or even skilled. So – buyer beware!
One of the main advantages with buying off plan is the fact that buyers can have a certain level of input with the internal layout and finish of their property and they can pay in instalments over the build duration. It’s imperative that any buyer of off plan property in Bulgaria has the instalment points written into their contract and that they are based on the stage of the build not a period of time – otherwise a builder could potentially take the full cost of the property without actually doing any of the work…
It’s usual to pay a reservation deposit before signing a contract, the contract should be checked by an independent lawyer before it is signed, it must be clarified whether the final price of the off plan property is inclusive of all taxes including VAT at 20% and whether it is inclusive of any extras such as use of a communal pool – and finally it must be confirmed that the builder owns the land on which the property is being built and that he has permission to build.
Buying a resale or renovation property in Bulgaria
The one warning to give anyone thinking about buying a less than perfect property in Bulgaria is that renovation and reconstruction work can sometimes cost more than the property cost in the first place! It can be expensive for materials, it can be expensive for specialist labour and more importantly, many properties require far more than surface improvements.
Anyone thinking about buying a resale or renovation property in Bulgaria should get an independent site survey done, they should get a range of quotations for the work required, they should ensure they will have permission to carry out the changes and improvements they wish to and they should seriously think about employing a local architect or independent solicitor or estate agent to oversee works if they cannot be physically present in Bulgaria during the rebuild period.
Standards of building and workmanship in Bulgaria are not as high as in the UK and yet local craftsmen who can make wrought iron, build stone walls or carve things out of wood are widely found and their skills can add great value to a property for not much money. The people who will survive a renovation project in Bulgaria best are those who can do a lot of the skilled work such as electrics and plumbing themselves and who can speak Bulgarian!
Buying land and self building in Bulgaria
Outside of the main towns and away from the main resorts there is land aplenty to buy in Bulgaria – and a lot of it is incredibly cheap although prices have been rising in the past couple of years.
Those who wish to buy land and self build cannot simply buy the first plot they see and assume they’ll get planning permission, nor should they necessarily believe anyone who claims to be selling land with permission already granted! It is important to start the whole process by finding a good solicitor who can give help and guidance every step of the way…
Ownership rules in Bulgaria can be complex – a whole family can have equal rights to a piece of land for example. Also some land cannot be built upon if it is ‘unregulated’ or deemed agricultural land for example and so a lawyer’s advice is imperative.
Once land has been found and purchased the buyer has to get permission to build and the permission will detail how high the property can be and how much of the land area it can cover – building density rules change from area to area. With this general information in place an architect can be employed to design the property and get all the official permissions from the utilities companies to state that they can supply services.
The next stage is to commission a builder – at least three quotes should be sought and preferably from builders who have been recommended to the buyer by those who have employed their services satisfactorily already…a contract should be drawn up with penalty clauses for late delivery etc., and then the building work can begin.
Buying a property in Bulgaria either as a second home or a permanent residence can be quite stressful as rules and regulations differ in Bulgaria from elsewhere in the world – but those who fare best find a good solicitor and tread cautiously and carefully through the whole process.