Set up a limited company
Currently, there are restrictions on foreigners buying land in Bulgaria. According to the Bulgarian Act on Foreign Investment, foreigners may buy properties but not land in Bulgaria. Therefore, the most common method that foreigners use when buying property in Bulgaria is to register a limited company that then owns the land and the property.
If you’re buying an apartment in Bulgaria, you don’t normally need to set up a limited company as the land is shared between the owners. This is already written into the contract. However, if the sale includes land (as a house would), then a company needs to be incorporated to hold the land.
Setting up a company for the purpose of buying property in Bulgaria is a relatively easy process and most estate agents or legal advisors in Bulgaria can organize this for you as part of their service.
– First of all set up a company bank account. You will need to deposit a minimum of 5,000 leva (approximately £1,700 assuming an exchange rate of 2.88 leva to the pound sterling), the minimum capital required in Bulgarian law to establish a limited company.
– Remember that this is not the cost of setting up the company, but one of the conditions necessary to set up the company. The courts will not issue the company registration numbers unless you can prove that you have at least this amount in your account.
– As soon as the courts have issued the registration numbers, you can withdraw the full amount or keep the account open for future transfers, the choice is yours.
– In addition to a company bank account it is advisable to set up a personal bank account for future payments of utility bills and tax payments.
– Once the company is formed, details of the company will need to be registered with the Bulgarian National Tax Register Authority, National Companies Register and the National Social Security Institute.
– The charges associated with setting up a limited company vary from estate agent to estate agent, but normally it costs in the region of £350.
All foreign buyers purchasing property in Bulgaria must be aware that sellers insist on declaring a lower price in the title deeds to avoid paying tax. Be careful here as most sellers prefer to state the "tax estimation" price rather then the "selling price” as this will reduce their tax liability. Do not participate in this type of tax evasion as penalties are severe.
It is therefore essential that you insist that the selling price be stated on the deeds when buying property in Bulgaria, because if you state the tax estimation price and then decide to sell the property, you will be faced with a hefty capital gains tax liability. Hopefully, it shouldn’t come to this as the purchaser will usually agree to insert the selling price instead of the tax estimation price.
Make a deposit
Once you have decided on a property and agreed on the price, an initial deposit of 10% will be placed with your Bulgarian lawyer to secure the property for a period of thirty days. The lawyer will then draw up a preliminary contract setting out all the agreed terms and stating the deposit paid. It’s at this stage that the property is then taken off the market.
Perform legal checks
The lawyer then carries out the necessary checks on the title and investigates if there are any outstanding loans secured on the property. You have a thirty-day time limit to complete the transaction. If the seller withdraws from the sale within this period, you will be entitled to damages to the amount of twice your initial deposit paid. However, if you decide to withdraw from the transaction, the lawyer must forfeit your deposit.
Once the lawyer is satisfied that all is in order, the balance of the purchase price is paid plus agency fees and a land tax/notary fee. The whole conveyance process of buying property in Bulgaria takes about 3 weeks, but by giving Power of Attorney to your lawyer you don’t need to return to Bulgaria to complete the transaction.
So what documents do I need to take with me and how much money do I require when buying property in Bulgaria for the first time?
- Cash or travelers cheques (or Bulgarian Lev) to the value of 10% of each property price, plus around £400 to cover the company set-up charge.
- Your passport for proof of identity
– You will also need to bring £1,700 (5000 Lev) to open your company bank account. But don’t forget that this money is only to show the courts that you have the minimum funds required to create a limited company.
– Add around £150 to cover small charges for opening your company bank account, preliminary contract fee, and document translation costs if required.
– And, of course, don't forget to bring some money to cover your living and travel costs during your visit.
Here’s a summary of the property buying procedure and the main points you need to be aware of when buying property in Bulgaria:
– Make an offer – Once an offer is made and a deposit paid to your lawyer (usually10% of the agreed price), the property is then taken off the market.
– Open a company bank account to deposit the 5,000 Levs to show that you have the funds required to set up a company in Bulgaria.
– Set up a Bulgarian registered company for buying property in Bulgaria. (The cost is around £400.)
– Open a personal bank account for future payments of tax and utility bills.
– Enlist the help of a Bulgarian lawyer to perform searches to the Land Registry -once all documents have been checked and approved, a completion date will be agreed upon.
– Completion shall be effected upon transfer of funds and signing of the Notary Act, which is the transfer of Title Deeds.
– Legal fees & costs on purchase price totals around 5% This includes
· Solicitors fees usually 1%
· Notary expenses are approximately 2%
· Notary fees varies, but usually are less then 0.5-0.8%
· Stamp duty of 2%
· Land registration tax of 0.1%
– Time scale for the entire process is around 30/40 days.