There are a few things one may need to know when decides to buy a property in Bulgaria.
Please, be very careful when you choose your estate agency in Bulgaria. A Bulgarian estate agent will handle the vast majority of property sales especially when the buyer is abroad. It's common, particularly amongst the British and Irish, to use a UK estate agent that works in co-operation with a Bulgarian estate agent or developer.
Most, if not all, of the estate agents in Bulgaria have staff that speaks English and other foreign languages, so speaking Bulgarian is not necessary.
The purchaser might be charged for viewing trips. This all depends on which estate agent you use. However, this is normal. You may come, have a look at some proeprties and in the end - decide not to buy anything. (And this is normal too.) But the agency has made a lot of expenses on your trip, that must be refunded. Probably the best thing is when you pay your expenses by yourself, and if you decide to buy through an agency, it will refund them. Thus, you are not obliged to buy through a particular agency, and the agency will be satisfied too.
Many employees working within the real estate business are self employed, they use their own personal vehicles / petrol and only receive a very small percentage of the actual commission on a successful sale and therefore the viewing fees softens the blow when after days of viewing, the purchaser doesn't buy for whatever reason. The exact percent that person who shows you around earns in the end is very small, or – which is even worse – he doesn’t get anything because he is on a regular salary. So it won’t be very bad if you give him some extra money – not much of course. But this will open his heart :) towards you; he may even give you a good advice on which of his employer’s complexes or houses is best and worthy. He may even decide to connect you with other sellers – local, who will give you better offers. Here, as in almost every aspect of Bulgarian life – if you give someone some money just for the advice, you have won this person for an everlasting friend :) People don’t earn a lot and every possible cash income is welcomed.
When you intend to invest in any foreign country make a good research.
It's a good idea to decide where do you want to live, what sort of property you want and your budget before visiting Bulgaria. It's a good think to have clear idea of what do you intend to do with your property - what is your intention? Do you plan to live in the place you buy, do you mean to buy it as an investment opportunity? Are you going to rent it? Shall you rent it by yourself, or through an agency? These are all questions that you'd better ask yourself before even coming to Bulgaria. Thus you'll be able to put straight borders of your search and thus you won't waste your time (And the agent's one:)
Obtain details and photographs of as many properties as possible in your chosen area and make a list of those you wish to view. Plan to take your time when viewing properties. Most experts advise buyers to travel independently and shop around a number of agents. A long weekend isn't sufficient, unless you have previously selected both a location and type of property. Arrange to see a variety of properties so you can judge the price and quality merits of each.
Taking photos and keeping notes on each property eliminates confusion.
Take a rest from viewing properties before you feel overwhelmed. The more you instantly like a property, the more you should look for its drawbacks and faults. Once you have examined all the faults and drawbacks if you still like it then it may be the house for you! Very important!!! Always use the the services of a thrustful lawyer who can find the icebergs in a potentially good deal - for example - when you buy a house - he may find that there are more than one owners of the porperty and this may open a whole lot of problems for you afterwards.
Most Bulgarian estate agents will offer an after sales service which includes all the legal advice, insurance, arranging utilities, such as electricity and water and can even advise on interior decorators. Many also offer a rental service for non-resident owners; check their commission rate before making a commitment.
Let’s say something about the agencies. There are dozens of agencies. A lot of people in Bulgaria have heard that foreigners want to buy land, houses etc. in Bulgaria. And they decided to open an agency. Or even – they don’t act legally. If you go around the streets you’ll find quite many labels of property agencies, offering the best properties and rates. Please – don’t believe all of them! Do your homework – or which is even better – find a native Bulgarian who can show you around and who can listen what the agents speak to one another in Bulgarian.
Some other important things according to me are:
- Always go and see where and what you are investing in! Don't count on that computer graphics - they show a plan of the building, for example, but do not show what lies around it, where is the exact location of the property, what it is surrounded by, what can you see, are there a lot of other buildings around, etc. Sometimes you see a computer graphic that represents a perfect building with huge and nice forest close to it. You buy an apartment and go to see it - and what you see is veeeeery different - "your" building is surrounded by hundreds of other buildings, and the forest - aaa, maybe there used to be one, but its nowhere to be seen now! Or the location - they can tell you "the property is very close to the lift station". And you come and see it - well - this closeness is about 1km.
- Don't trust these "luxury finishing" ads. In most cases this luxury finishing is quite far from luxury - the laminate flooring has scratches, or empty spaces under it. The kitchen is equipped in the cheapest manner, with the cheapest possible kitchen supplies. Have you heard of the trademarks "Elite", "Watson", "Beko"? Maybe not! These are turkish or chinese brands for electrical supplies, if you buy a "fully furnished" apartment it will be "fully full" of them, forget about "Sony", "Samsung", "Philips", etc. So my advice is, always negotiate a price of the apartment without furnishing and finishing. Yes, you will have to do this by your own after that. This will cost you some time and maybe some more money, but thrust me - it worths! The investor negotiates competitive prices with the makers of those appliances and floorings, etc. - yes! But they are not good quality, the work done there for finishing is far worse than if it is to be done by a company that specializes in real wood flooring for example. And a "Samsung" TV set is far better than a "Watson" one, we think, despite it will be little more expensive. If you decide to finish your apartment by your own - please contact us- we'll find you the best Bulgarian companies, and you will be satisfied by their prices and quality of work.
- If you are renting a car, especially if you go to the winter resorts - always take a more passable car - the roads are not in good condition, especially in the mountains.
- You've better have a map with you with the english names of the streets. Have in mind that a lot of names of the streets are written in Bulgarian on the labels. Another problem is the actual lack of labels on the cormers of the streets, this leads to a lot of misunderstanding.
- Always ask what does the price include. Usually there are several charges: 1. price of the apartment. 2. annual fee - 6-12 EURO per square meter per year, or a percent of the price of the apartment - this fee includes security, free use of the pool, small repair works in the apartment. 3. electricity, water. 4. % of the guaranteed rental return - let's say you sign contract with developer that he will find tourist for your apartment and for the others as well. He guarantees you - let's say 4% annual return. And he receives about 15% of your income - this includes the every day changing of towels, sheets, cleaning.
If you have experiensed something else and find it useful, please help us in helping the others, tell us your property buying advices and we will add it here. Thank you in advance! If you need any advice on buying properties - you are wondering where to buy, or what, or which will be the best invesment opportunity, ask us, we'll do our best to help you.