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Buy to Rent in Bulgaria

Many foreign purchasers consider buying property in Bulgaria as a holiday home with the idea of renting it out for some of the year to help cover their costs.

Some are thinking of buying now and renting it for a few years with the idea of retiring there later. Others, just buy as pure rental investment. Any of these options can work well and do for many, but what should you be looking for in a property you buy to rent to make sure you are spending your money wisely.

Location - The words location, location, location as ever apply. Location is crucial to your returns. If you are looking to successfully rent your property it needs to be in a location people want to spend their holiday time.

Bulgaria, although not a large country is very diverse and even though some parts are spectacularly beautiful it does not mean that tourists want to holiday there. This may be down to access - no roads or airports too far away in terms of time - but will also be in part down to their lack of familiarity and knowledge of many parts of Bulgaria. Pretty much all holiday makers will know the Black Sea coast, the ski resorts, the capital and many of the Museum Towns. But they will likely not be familiar with small rural villages or lesser known towns.

The other side of the coin to this, though, is that there will be less rental properties competing with you and the property less expensive in the first instance. However, if rentals are your aime, you really need to be in a place which is known, well promoted and has attractions.

A word of caution here, don't be tempted by foreigners saying their area is "the best" - use your own judgement and be critical about the areas they say are wonderful. After all maybe they would like others to buy there to help the price of their own property - you have your own agenda. Look at where the local Bulgarians are buying as this usually means prices are on the up or soon will be.

The ideal of course is to find a property in an up and coming region. Watch for new roads being built (southern Bulgaria is a good example of this) and features likely to indicate potential buying areas.

Situation - Consider carefully whether that lovely rural house is the right one. Often tourists on holiday want to sit in a quiet garden enjoying the sun, having a bbq and a glass of wine with the children safe to run around. Yet they also want nearby facilities - often within walking distance. Tourists soon tire of having to drive several miles for just a loaf of bread. An edge of town house can be ideal as a choice, providing quiet and calm with adjacent countryside but with all amenities to hand.

Try also to think about why people would want to come back a second or third time. If you can get high repeat bookings this takes the strain off the marketing which you'll need to do each year. It can also increase your off-season bookings.

The Property - Most people come in twos or fours, so to maximise your property income you'll usually want a property which will sleep four to five people. Choosing this kind of property you can rent to families during the summer and couples during spring and autumn. Always keep in your mind ways to maximise the number of weeks you sell.

Be careful of very large properties. They may be popular with groups or during the school holidays but can be difficult to rent the remainder of the time - also maintenance costs will be higher.

Small properties can be ideal if you want to rent only to couples. These visitors have a distinct advantage as a rule - less mess and damage.

The property does not need to be a new build, indeed many tourists are looking for older properties with character and original features. What it does need to be is very well maintained.

Swimming Pool or Hot Tub - Without doubt a swimming pool or hot tub adds a lot to the rent you can ask for your property and will make it easier to rent. However, initial installation costs and ongoing maintenance may make you feel this is not an option for you. Although there are no stringent safety laws regarding pools used in properties being rented, it is only a short matter of time when EU legislation will catch up in this area. We strongly advise you build in the cost of enclosing your pool so that it is child-proof. Even without EU laws, the thought of an accident with a child is just too frightening.

Condition and Maintenance - The property must be in very good condition and as low maintenance as possible for yourselves. It may be empty for a number of weeks so it needs to be dry, safe and secure - rain and mice will get in if they can! You may find a neighbour who will look after the property but more than likely you will need the assistance of a property management company. You cannot afford to let the property get that look of being empty and abondoned for when your next guests turn up.

Rentals - Do you want to retain certain weeks of the year for yourself? Every time you do, you are reducing the number of weeks you can rent. Think about those weeks you wish to keep back - key rental times of year will provide four times more revenue than low season.

A word about low season. Rental from this period will be very low and the property will be hard to fill. You should consider whether it is worth closing up the property or charging a very low rent just to keep it aired and heated.

Often at the start it is friends and family who rent from you - but do watch out, experience shows that they expect a reduced rate. Are you happy with a much reduced rental or feel that at least you have people you know in your own property.

Costs of Ownership - Apart from the usual costs of maintenance, weekly cleaning, handover, gardening, heating, insurance and so on.... do not forget a budget for marketing! Also, add in wear and tear plus breakages.

If at the end of all this, you are wondering whether it's worth it, just take a look at the benefits. You'll own your home in Bulgaria in an attractive location and your holiday is only a plane ride away. You'll cover some of your costs or all of them, maybe even make a bit. Buying now means you are not taking the risk of prices being out of reach in the long term.

Most of all though, you'll just love it!