PROPERTY IN BULGARIA - F.A.Q.
- Can I buy a property in Bulgaria and are there any restrictions for foreigners?
Generally speaking, foreigners as persons can acquire only buildings but not land. Since April 2014, foreign citizens are not allowed to buy plots of agricultural/forest land and vineyards. The restriction is for all foreign citizens, no matter the nationality. It was suggested by the previous government and not yet reconsidered by the current. What foreign clients can acquire at the moment are plots of regulated (building) land, houses with gardens, apartments.
Exceptions to this rule are now applicable to EU physical and legal persons. They are allowed to buy houses with gardens and regulated plots of land in Bulgaria on 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 after its accession to the EU. The 5-year term has now finished and since 1.01.2012 all EU persons are allowed to buy plots in Bulgaria (all plots that are within the zoning of the settlements, houses with gardens and ideal parts of the land coming with apartments) without any restrictions.
For buying agricultural land in Bulgaria an additional requirement about a residence period in Bulgaria has been introduced – the right to own agricultural land can be acquired by natural or legal persons, who have resided or which have been established in Bulgaria for more than five years. Read more about amendments to the Agricultural Land Ownership and Usage Act.
- How shall we start our property search?
Have a look at the properties on our website and when decide which properties you like, send us an email with any questions you might have about the properties using the “contact us” box located under the photos on every offer. For viewings you need to arrange a trip to Bulgaria and let us know. We will then set the necessary appointments. You can also ask us any other questions that you have, we’re here to help!
- What are the fees and commissions charged by Bulgarian Properties Ltd.?
Please read about our charges here.
- How do we see the properties that we are interested in?
If you tell us in advance when you will be coming to Bulgaria, we can arrange viewings to fit your schedule (even a tight one!). We don’t charge a viewing fee, but we charge € 0.30 per km. We can also arrange your accommodation and meet you at the airport.
- What do we need to bring with us on our first visit?
Obviously you will need your passport, but also some Euros if you want to place a deposit immediately. (You can bring up to 10,000 Euros each into Bulgaria without declaring it if you have come from another EU country.). We would suggest you bring some sturdy shoes if you are looking at properties in the country, as some may be less accessible than others.
- How do we reserve a property?
You will need to pay a deposit (normally about 10% of the price and a minimum of 2000 euros) which is non refundable. This ensures that the property is removed from the market and not sold to anyone else.
- Can we pay a deposit by credit card or travelers’ cheques?
Travelers’ cheques are cashed only in the big towns and they charge high commissions on them. You can pay us a deposit using your credit card for your property. Normal cheques take about 4 weeks to clear and they are not suitable for payments, especially for placing a deposit!
- How do we pay the balance for the completion of the deal?
You will be able to transfer the balance for the purchase of the property to our company bank account, covering all the bank charges, so that we can receive the exact needed amount. All the terms and conditions for the installments, when and where to pay will be described in the mediation contract you will have with Bulgarian Properties Ltd. Also, your Sales Manager will be constantly in touch with you to lead you through the purchase process. Bank transfer is the most common way for payment of balances for property purchases. However, we can discuss other options upon your reqest.
- Is it possible to buy without coming to Bulgaria?
Yes, this is possible, but not always so straight forward. You will have to get documents signed and stamped in the UK. It is often easier and quicker to come to Bulgaria for a couple of days and sort everything out here. Plus, you will be able to see the property.
- Will we get ownership documents for the property?
Yes, you will have title deeds in your name, or if you are buying through a company, your company name.
- What if we want to have renovations carried out on our property?
No problem, we can recommend a complete range of professional tradesmen who will work to the budget that you set them. You just need to tell them your requirements and negotiate the different options with them.
- What about our company tax returns?
Every year you have to submit your annual tax return, the same as in the UK. We have accountants that can do this for you. Our after sales package will include this service as one of the options available to you.
- Do we need a visa?
At the moment EU citizens can stay in Bulgaria for 90 days in any 6 months. Any more than that and you can easily apply for a Residence Certificate once you are in Bulgaria. This is valid for up to five years. Non EU citizens should contact the Bulgarian Embassy in their home country, for up to date visa information.
- What about the cost of living there?
Compared with UK prices, this is extremely cheap. A loaf of bread should be about 50 Euro Cents, a pint of lager about 1 Euro, a packet of cigarettes about 2 Euros. A litre of petrol is about 1 Euro.
It's not possible to compare living costs in Bulgaria and Western Europe.
A few examples: House insurance is around 100-200 € Euros per year for buildings and contents (depending on the type of house). For a 30,000 € Euros property, insurance against theft, flood and fire costs about 125 € Euros per year with a decent insurance company like Allianz. For heating, there are central heating systems in the big cities: monthly costs for a 2-bedroom apartment around 100 € Euros. In the towns and villages, people use charcoal and wood, which is a cheaper way to heat a house. For electricity, when used for cooking, lighting or heating water, one pays about 30 € Euros monthly. Local and national taxes for owning a property vary greatly depending on the location, but for the capital (and most expensive area) expect to pay around 150 Euros for a 2 bed apartment.
- Driving a car in Bulgaria.
There are few annual fees that must be paid every year to drive a car in our country:
Third party insurance, 80 Euros per year. Road tax (depending on the engine power): around 80 Euros per year for a 2.0 litre engine and MOT, 20 Euros per year. Many cars in Bulgaria are equipped with LPG systems, which is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than petrol. Bulgaria has the cheapest brand new cars in Europe. For example a brand new Renault Clio costs only 10 000 € EURO. Second hand vehicles of any type and brand are also widely available.
- Can we use our credit and debit cards in Bulgaria?
In the bigger towns, you can use your cards, but still only in the larger shops. All the hotels will accept cards, and all the major petrol stations, but in general most other transactions are carried out in cash.
- What about telephones?
It’s not worth bringing over a UK stationary phone for your new property as they will not work in Bulgaria. Mobiles will work, either with a Bulgarian SIM card or using your UK card if it is suitable.
- If our property is only going to be occupied for about two months of the year, do we really need to get good security for the rest of the time?
Yes, we recommend you have special alarm system and private property protection which costs around 25 - 30 Euros per month. There are some very professional companies in Bulgaria providing such a service.
- What are the regulations for the import and export of currency by foreigners
Travellers entering or leaving the EU and carrying €10 000 or more in cash (or its equivalent in other currencies or easily convertible assets such as cheques drawn on a third party) have to make a declaration to the customs authorities.
This follows the entry into force of a new European Regulation aimed at fighting money laundering, and the financing of terrorism. Customs authorities are empowered under the Regulation to undertake controls on individuals, their baggage and their means of transport and detain cash that has not been declared.
Travellers must be aware that all Member States apply penalties in the event of failure to comply with the obligation to declare as laid down in the Regulations.
- How do we check the encumbrances on the property, as well as the due taxes and other aspects?
Information about the encumbrances on the property (mortgages, third parties’ rights, legal claims, etc.) can be checked by the relevant Registry Office (Property Register) at the Registry Agency as per the location of the property.
The due taxes can be checked in the respective Local Taxes and Fees Office with the respective municipality as per the location of the property. One must get a Certificate for Tax Evaluation of the property or a Certificate of Municipal Liabilities (for liabilities of the seller for local taxes and fees to the respective municipality and for other properties).
In the respective territorial branch of the National Revenue Agency one can check the seller’s liabilities to the state budget (taxes, obligatory social security contributions, etc.) by requiring a Certificate of Tax Liabilities.
Apart from the preliminary checks of the property and the lack or presence of encumbrances and liabilities it would be best if one gets an Encumbrance Certificate as of the day when the deals is certified in front of a notary public, as it will show all records and entries that might lead to an eviction of the buyer.
- How can I check the validity of the seller’s notary deed?
If there is any doubt about the validity of the notary deed of a property it can be checked at the respective Registry Office (Property Register) with the Registry Agency
A check can also be made with the notary public whose name is on the notary deed and who certified the deal but the most reliable check is at the Registry Office (Property Register).
- What does “ideal parts” mean?
According to Art.38 of the Ownership Act - in buildings in which floors or parts of floors are owned by different owners, common for all owners are the land on which the building is constructed, the courtyard, the foundations, the external walls, the internal dividing walls between separate parts, the internal supporting walls, columns, cross beams, floor slabs, trimmer joists, staircases, landings, roofs, walls between attic and basement premises of the individual owners, chimneys, external entrance doors to the building, and the doors to the common parts of the attic and basement, the main lines for all manner of installations and their central outfits, elevators, drain-pipes, the janitor's apartment and everything else which by its nature or purpose serves for common use.
It may be agreed upon that the parts of the building which serve only some of the individually owned floors or parts of floors are common only to the persons whose premises they serve. Common parts may not be partitioned.
The shares of the individual co-owners in the common parts are calculated depending on the value of the individual premises. Shares are defined as per the rules set in Art.40 of the Ownership Act. They are proportional to the ratio between the value of the individual premises, calculated at the time of establishing the condominium ownership. The sum of all common parts shall be 100 percent, if shown in percents or shall be one if shown in fractions.
- How and when do I pay for a property in cash and via a bank transfer?
There are no legal requirements about when one should pay for the property – the price can be paid in advance, before the deal is certified before a notary public, on the day of the transfer of ownership or in installments.
NOTE: as from 1.07.2011 the cash payments for properties are limited to 10,000 BGN. This means that if the price of a property exceeds 10,000 BGN the payment can be made only via a bank transfer. This is also valid for partial payments of the property price. For example a deposit of less than 10,000 BGN must also be paid via bank transfer and these payments are certified before a notary public on the day of the conclusion of the deal with bank statements for the paid sums under the deal.
- What happens when I buy a property that has a mortgage?
If at the moment of the signing of the preliminary agreement the property has a mortgage then the seller must be obliged to expunge the mortgage at the moment of the final transfer of the property ownership and the new owner to receive a property without encumbrances.
- Is it important to know in which year the property was built?
In case the building was constructed without a building permit and it doesn’t have building documentation, knowing the year it was built in is important so that it can be established whether it is tolerable or not.
This happens with the issuing of Certificate of Tolerance. It is issued for properties built before 1987. For deals with such properties only such a certificate is needed as it can be issued by the respective municipality as per the location of the property.
- When the apartment needs repair works who must pay for them – the landlord or the tenant?
Repair works which must repair damages from the everyday use of the property must be paid for by the tenant, while more major repairs must be paid for by the landlord unless the tenant caused the damage intentionally which then means the tenant must pay for the repairs.
- Does the landlord have the right to visit their property without notice?
The law states that the landlord doesn’t have the right to visit the property they are renting out without notice as they are obliged to ensure the undisturbed use of the property by the tenant. Still, the owner has the right to visit the property with due notice which can also be included in the rental agreement.
- When must the tenant pay the rental income tax instead of the landlord?
When an enterprise or a self-employed person is the one paying the rental income (the tenant) the amount of the tax is withheld and remitted by the payer of the rental income (the tenant) at the time of its payment to the landlord.
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