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Buyers Guide - tips and hints


Estate agents

The property boom in Bulgaria has seen an equal boom in the number of agents popping up. Estate agents are completely unregulated in Bulgaria and this should be borne in mind. Many of these new agents have no experience whatsoever in real estate, building or construction, or the purchase process for foreigners.

Find an established company; longevity says something, most companies go out of business quickly if they are dishonest or incompetent. The internet is a marvellous thing but don’t base your decision about an agent on their website alone (or what you read on forums about them); ask for customer references and see if those people were happy with the service.

Even if the agent is part of the British Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce or another association, this is no proof of anything much as many of these associations are just paid for memberships.

Having said this, most of the agents in Bulgaria provide a service which goes much further than any agent in the UK. A good Bulgarian agent really can help with everything and will even take you shopping, sort out translators, put you in touch with reliable builders, etc.., generally being worth their weight in gold.

A word about fees. Generally, agents take a commission from both the buyer and the seller (usually 3% from each). This may seem a very high commission to UK purchasers. However, with the amount of kms covered, higher social charges than the UK and the job a good agent performs it is a reasonable amount.

Be careful with UK agents operating with Bulgarian properties. Many are entirely reputable but there are some which set up only to provide leads to the Bulgarian agent and know little about the Bulgarian property market and the purchase procedure. In many cases, they are sharing the commission with the Bulgarian counterpart but there are some who are charging a commission on top.

It is your choice, you may feel more comfortable dealing with a UK company, but do your research thoroughly nonetheless.

Five Top Tips to Ensure Success:

1. Get your own independent lawyer who will look after your interests, not those of the estate agent
2. Declare the correct price in the deeds, this will save you paying extra tax if you ever come to sell
3. Don’t rely on a ‘rough’ translation. The legal documents pertaining to your purchase should be translated by a registered translator who signs them to say they are correct
4. Don’t get fixated with properties you see on the internet, they may not be suitable, or even for sale, when you eventually get to Bulgaria
5. Set your budget, not forgetting to include all taxes, commissions, lawyers fees, etc., and stick to it!