Purchase of property Bulgaria
Thorough area research and companies contracted (developers, estate agents and lawyers) is highly recommended . Examine a range of properties suggested by different agents, compare prices and ensure you are paying a fair price.
Extreme caution is advised. Do not rely on estate agents, promoters or lawyers, who advise you to cut corners in order to save time and/or money. Bulgarian property works much differently than property law in UK, therefore it is in your interest to make sure you are working with experienced and qualified professionals.
Should you choose to work with a British estate agent, promoter or lawyer, verify their qualifications and experience in the Bulgarian market in particular. Consult online forums to verify other customers’ experience, use them to ask questions
Seek independent legal advice
Many property owners are now having legal trouble, since they failed to look for independent legal advice and allowed lawyers and translators, recommended by the estate agent or developer. Engage a lawyer experienced in property transactions, who is not in any way related to other parties in the transaction.
If you are using a Bulgarian-based lawyer, make sure that lawyer has a registration with the Bulgarian Bar Association. Ask for the lawyer’s registration number and verify it using the Bar Association’s website or the Bulgarian Bar Registers.
If you are employing an UK-based lawyer’s office, make sure that lawyer’s office is registered with the the Law Society in UK and specializes in International Transactions.
Verify the professional liability insurance of your UK-based lawyer. There are no requirements for liability insurance for your Bulgaria-based lawyer.
Avoid signing any papers or paying any fees before you’ve consulted with an independent legal professional.
Use an independent translator
If you are not fluent in Bulgarian language, make sure you translate all contracts and other requisite information with an independent translator. Ensure the translations are true and certified. Please note that only Bulgarian version of texts prevail in Bulgarian courts.
- Off-plan developments in Bulgaria are properties, for which no Permit to Use (Act Form 16) have been issued.
- The regulated stages of an off-plan development are set forth in the laws and regulatory documents. A non-exhaustive list of documents follows below:
- Planning permission/Design Visa – this authorizes developer to draft architectural designs and construction plans for development in accordance with certain statutory parameters for building height, construction density, building layout , et al.
- Construction permit – it entitles the developer to start the construction according to the approved architectural, construction technical plans
- Opening the construction site and designating the construction line and level (Statement for Start of Construction)
- Certificate for completion and approval of shell-and-core construction (Act Form 14)
- Certificate acknowledging the compliance of the construction with the statutory rules (Act Form 15)
- Permit to Use (Act Form 16)
- Buying an off-plan development without Construction Permit is not advisable.
In practice, a typical transaction for buying off-plan developments involves two stages: signing of a preliminary agreement and signing of a title deed in the presence of a Bulgarian Notary (Notary deed). The transfer of property is completed with the signing of the Notary Deed.
It is advised that the payment for purchase of off-plan property shall be made in installments, and all installments shall be paid after the completion of the relevant development stage and obtaining the statutory certification document.
As of January 2014, all restrictions on buying Bulgarian land by EU nationals have been removed. Should you need more information about the latest changes in legislation, please consult your legal adviser.
Before you complete your property purchase, ensure you have the following documents at your disposal:
The Cadastral Plan , which provides all information on the land’s use, regulation (building restrictions) and structure.
For properties which are not included in the Cadastre Register (not available for all areas), a Regulation Plan shall be issued by a Municipality.
Planning Permission (Design Visa): please ensure that when you are buying an off-plan property from a developer, that the development has been approved by the local municipality. If possible, take a look at the Site Development Plan, which designates whether the plot you would like to buy has any building restrictions, is in a green zone, or includes public pathway, et al.
Certificate of paid annual property tax. Ensure there are no unpaid property taxes from previous years.
Cadastral Certificate, providing the exact boundaries and square surface of your land
The Use Permit (Act Form 16), is issued by the municipality for new or repurposes buildings and certifies the property being habitable. This document is required to connect to the public utilities grid.
It is recommended to request from the seller of the property to provide evidence for absence of liabilities concerning the property (taxes and other regulatory costs and fees), or its use (consumable expenses). Please consult with your property agent about information regarding costs unpaid by the previous owner. Please be aware that any outstanding payables to the utility companies for the last two years shall transfer to you. Therefore we strongly advise you to make sure you have a copy of the confirmation statement for clearance of all debts by the previous owner.
A property survey: this is not mandatory, but it is recommended wise to employ a chartered surveyor to check the property before proceeding with the purchase.
If you are buying an off-plan property, please confirm the existence of an architectural plan for the property, approved by the local municipality. Please ensure the developer/builder has the necessary insurance to cover any construction faults.
Preliminary Agreement – this contract is not obligatory, but is usually signed between the buyer and the seller before the public deed is granted. You should make sure that you fully understand the contract before you sign it – if you are not fluent in Bulgarian you should get it translated
Title deed – please check the accurate description of the property in the deeds