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Buyers Guide - before you begin

Under declaring the price

You’ll often hear from agents and even notaries that the regular practice is to put a lower price in the deeds in order to cut costs. This is not only illegal but when you come to sell the property you’ll be faced with a bigger capital gains tax bill. Don’t be tempted by those who tell you this kind of practice is normal or above board, it is not.

Banking and money

It’s not difficult to open a bank account in Bulgaria but be prepared for some paperwork and a bit of patience.

One of the problems buyers can face is that Sterling is not fixed against the leva or euro. If the exchange goes against you, you might find yourself having to suddenly find a few more thousand pounds at the last moment. It is worth contacting a currency exchange broker to see how they can help you avoid any nasty last minute surprises. They will also usually transfer money cheaper than the banks or even at no cost at all.

Buying costs

Rule of thumb - allow 6 to 7% of the purchase price in overall costs.

In the main estate agents charge 3% of the price as their commission. Your lawyer will probably charge 1% but often have a minimum fee. When signing the final deed you need to allow for municipal tax, notary fees and registration of the title deeds - around 3%. Your lawyer will be able to confirm all costs to you.

Before you even begin

The first thing is to set your budget. How much can you really afford? Don’t forget to include taxes, commissions, lawyer fees and other extras so that you don’t have any nasty surprises! Setting your budget will often help you decide which parts of Bulgaria to look at.

One of the hardest decisions is where to buy in Bulgaria. Everywhere is so attractive with such reasonable prices, confusion often sets in. One way of dealing with this is to ask yourselves questions about exactly what you are looking for.

This sounds really obvious, but by doing this you’ll save yourself lots of time when you eventually visit Bulgaria to start looking ... and you will have a much better idea of what you really want

Do remember that prices are still rising so by the time you visit and get to deciding on a purchase, prices may have gone up. Build in a contingency amount to cover this. If you’re looking at older houses, think about how much any renovation or other works will cost before you start on purchasing. And don’t forget about furnishing the property.


If you need financing, now is the time to get this in place so that the money is available when you are ready to purchase. With properties in demand, there would be little worse than finding your dream home only to discover that a mortgage application will take eight weeks and you lose the property.

A note about buying off plan property and financing. Before you sign any preliminary contract ensure you can obtain financing. Do not believe the agent who says "of course you'll get a mortgage". Check this with potential lenders and get an agreement in principle in writing. If you sign the preliminary conract before you have checked out financing ensure there is a clause in it stating that the purchase is dependent upon receiving the mortgage. If you do not have your financing organised or have just gone blindly ahead and signed a prelim contract, you could be left in a position where you are either short of funds or cannot complete the purchase at all, thus losing your deposit.

Once you’ve decided on a property you’ll need to pay a deposit so make sure that money is available straight away.

To finance your property purchase you are most likely either going to take a mortgage in Bulgaria or re-mortgage your UK home. Many purchasers prefer to re-mortgage in the UK as they are familiar with that system and the interest rates are lower.

For mortgages in Bulgaria there are now several banks offering mortgages. Overall, they generally offer 70 - 80% of the property value over a period of 20 years but this can depend upon the area in which the property is located. In certain areas, the banks have a maximum amount per sq.m ratio. It can take 12 weeks to organise a Bulgarian mortgage so make sure you apply in good time.

If you are raising a mortgage be aware of the problem of under-declaring on the deeds which can cause problems in raising finance for your purchase.