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Buying Property

Bulgaria - Buying Property

Bulgarian law allows foreign nationals to buy property in this country with certain limitations. All foreigners can buy apartments in Bulgaria in their own names, but there are some additional terms and conditions. Most of the apartments for sale in Bulgaria are usually sold without parts of the land, so it can be said that in most of the cases buyers would be able to buy an apartment without any limitations. When buying a house with a garden or a plot of land, buyers must know that land cannot be sold to foreign persons and can only be bought by registering with a Bulgarian company.

Exceptions to this rule are now applicable to EU physical and legal persons. These citizens are allowed to buy houses with gardens and regulated plots of land in Bulgaria in their own names as physical persons. The Treaty of Accession of Bulgaria to the EU allowed Bulgaria to keep the prohibition for EU physical and legal persons to buy land in Bulgaria for up to 5 years for land and up to 7 years for forests and agricultural land. This rule applies to houses with gardens, all plots that are within the zoning of settlements, apartments coming with ideal parts of land, offices and other commercial properties. The same regulation applies for citizens of countries from the European Economic Area (EEA). For all foreign persons who are not citizens of EU or EEA countries, the overall restriction to buy land in Bulgaria is still valid, which means that they need to register first.

How to buy property in Bulgaria

To begin with, the best place to look for properties is on the internet, as there are numerous websites with a huge variety of properties. After that it is best to contact the estate agents who are responsible for the listings and they usually advise buyer on any issue related to buying a property in Bulgaria. Once the list of properties is made, the potential buyer should choose a date to view these properties.

After the buyer has made their choice the purchase process starts. It consists of the following steps:

1. The chosen property needs to be reserved and taken off the market. After the unit is selected, as a rule the buyer has to pay a deposit to the amount of 2,000 EUR. Only after that will the property be marked as reserved on the site and will be no longer available for sale.

2. After paying the deposit a preliminary agreement with the owner is signed within 30 days. The agreement settles the basic conditions which will later be copied to the Notary Deed. The conditions include a description of the property, the price, conditions and terms of payment, and for off-plan properties, the term for finishing the property.

3. Drawing up of the Notary Deed (the same as a Title Deed in the UK) which is considered the legal document certifying the ownership of the property. It is drawn up by the local notary public in the presence of the buyer and the seller.

4. The notary public certifies the deed and registers it with the Registry Agency. This is also noted in the notary deed.

5. Only for legal persons: a week after receiving the Notary Deed the lawyers enter the legal person - the buyer of the property - in the system of the Bulgarian National Statistics Institute. The property owner (legal person) will then receive a card with a unique BULSTAT number (ID number) under which all issues related to the property will be accounted. Within a two-week period the lawyers will also register the property and its owner (the company) in the tax office.

Annual tax on the property

After buying a property in Bulgaria the owner must consider paying annual property taxes. There are usually two property taxes to be paid: the property tax and the garbage collection, which are paid at the local municipality. The owners have to pay their water, electricity and heating bills on a monthly basis. If they bought a property in a gated development, they would also need to pay fees for security, maintenance and management.

Expat property buying in Bulgaria

In recent years, property buying in Bulgaria is the fastest growing asset in the market. Lately property prices in Bulgaria have increased by more than 25% in general. Some real estate has gone up by 50% in one year, especially in the capital of Sofia, in the Black Sea beach resorts and in some ski resorts.

The improved economic conditions, along with the political and social stability in Bulgaria since entering the European Union have brought a real boom in the prices of property in Bulgaria. Another important factor for the rising property market is the huge tourism potential on the Black Sea coast. There are great natural attractions such as high mountains, the beautiful and clean Black Sea coast, preserved rural areas, minimal urbanization and thousands of years of history. Nowadays Bulgaria is considered to be among the fastest growing tourist destinations in Europe.

Since 2007, Bulgarian laws have been constantly improving and changing in accordance with the laws in other countries of the European Union. Bulgaria has one of the most liberal foreign investment laws in the Balkan region. Foreign investment typically counts on establishing a joint venture with existing companies (state-owned or private), acquiring companies through privatization, setting up a new (green field) venture, or making a portfolio investment. Foreign investors can purchase property in Bulgaria directly or through a local company. Only Bulgarian-resident individuals and entities can own land, while non-residents may acquire only buildings.

The law does not limit the extent or amount of foreign participation in companies like in some other European countries. Foreign individuals and companies can open an unlimited number of accounts in Bulgarian banks, in any currency.

Some useful information about the current prices of properties in Bulgaria can be found on the following websites:

The Move Channel
Bulgarian Properties
British government website

Read more about this country

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