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Engaging a Lawyer - Best Policy Always

Engaging a lawyer and the way you go about buying land and property in Bulgaria can have radically different consequences for your investments. Property in Bulgaria is still exceptionally cheap in comparison to other EU countries. The key to wise investment and a good return is to avoid common pitfalls made by many foreign buyers not just in Bulgaria but in other foreign property markets too.

Whilst it is crucial to use a reliable real estate agent who can negotiate on your behalf with the seller, it is wise to avoid the services of a “friend of a friend.” Sadly, the world is full of clever sharks looking to make a fast buck and with an unscrupulous attitude and skilled knowledge of Photoshop, your rogue agent doesn’t and won’t have much knowledge of the Bulgarian property market and will not be operating in your best interest and that is why anyone considering a purchase abroad ahould seriously consider engaging a lawyer. He or she should be a reputable, independent lawyer who speaks their language fluently or is prepared to speak through a licensed, registered translator.

There are lawyers back in the UK qualified to act on your behalf in Bulgaria, but this is not a wise option as it will substantially increase your legal costs and most certainly delay the sales process. A good Bulgarian lawyer will tell you in advance what their fee will be and will be worth their weight in gold. They will provide the legal guarantees for the purchase of the property and make sure that Bulgarian legal requirements are adhered to as well as checking that the property is bought free of encumbrances, charges, liens or debt and is up to date in all its payments of local contributions and community charges. The lawyer may also assist the estate agent in difficult and complex negotiations with the owner. Your lawyer will also draw up and represent you at the preliminary and final contract meeting. Most of all a good lawyer will provide peace of mind that your investment was placed into a safe and legitimate legal “fund.”

Tip: Beware of your agent’s use of the word “solicitor.” Many real estate agents lead their clients to believe that the notary involved in every sale and purchase in Bulgaria is the same as a lawyer – it’s not!


Double check for peace of mind

At the preliminary contract stage ensure that the contract is well worded in language you understand, read the small print carefully and ensure that it also writes in various security clauses to protect your investment from the unforeseen like property included in the sale being stolen or late development.

If you are taking out a mortgage ensure that your lawyer checks that the preliminary contract contains clauses, so that if the mortgage is refused by the bank, you do not have to continue with the purchase.

Make sure that he also checks whether planning permission is required in the case of a renovation project.

Your lawyer can also accept your funds, thereby safeguarding your money and avoiding the situation where you are sending funds directly to the agent or vendor.

Once you have followed all of these steps to buy your land or property in Bulgaria, you need to retain the services of your lawyer to ensure that they can represent you at the building or renovation stage. Get quotes and recommendations of three good builders who can show you examples of their finished work and then get your lawyer to draw up an irrefutable contract in both languages, which lays down penalties and conditions for late delivery or things going wrong. Avoid any builder who is not prepared to do business on these terms.

Most property deals go through without a hitch, but in rare instances, where buyers acted on their own impulses without proper professional independent advice, they found that their investment was totally unprotected and often they stand to lose their lifesavings. If you failed to ensure that you had a watertight contract and a property with a clean title you could spend several thousand Euros pursuing a court case, which proves fruitless in returning your hard earned cash. It’s foolishness on the part of the buyer that fuels newspaper stories about “Rip off Bulgaria” or indeed any other foreign property market.

Do as you would at home, you wouldn't buy a property there without engaging a lawyer so don't do it in Bulgaria.