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New versus Old

It's a difficult decision whether or not to buy a brand new property or look around for a resale. Throughout Bulgaria, new builds are in abundance and with so much competition, many developers are offering incentives to buyers.

Many who came to Bulgaria in the first wave of the property boom have recognised that prices have risen sufficiently for them to cash in on their investment and now that they are selling, they are offering their properties at prices below those of the developers.

But what are the pros and cons of buying new v old?

Off plan – the advantages - Off plan properties mean that the building is not yet complete or in many cases not even started and you are in effect buying a property based on a plan or description of what it will be like when finalised.

Developers offer staged payment plans where you pay agreed amounts of the total purchase price at various stages of build of the development. If you are considering paying cash up front, then you should negotiate very hard for a good discount.

Opting for a new build of course means that your home has never been lived in by anyone else and you have right at the start a choice of decor, kitchen units, bathroom, tiles, etc., all to be in place ready for when you move in. You'll have a selection of furniture packs and you can opt for those which suit your needs, taste and budget.

Numerous developers have been offering guaranteed rental schemes. These can be a way to save you time and money if you want to rent your apartment or property.

Build quality is much improved and today's off plan properties have higher specifications. The massive supply of off plan builds has now forced developers to add extra facilities and up their spec. You'll find more developments on offer now with gyms, restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools than you would have found a couple of years ago.

A new build will come with a guarantee, so snags in construction should be ironed out.

Off plan - the disadvantages - Many resale properties are available, providing buyers with massive choice.

Deadlines on build are frequently not met. So, whilst you might be looking forward to your holiday in the sun next year, you could still be sitting at home waiting for the build to be completed. There is little comeback for those who find themselves waiting for two years.

Even when your apartment or villa is completed, you might still find the overall development more like a building site whilst landscaping or finishing is being completed; or even whilst the developer starts Phase 2 of the overall project. You could be waiting for a long time for that pool or other facilities to be available to you.

Guaranteed rental income may never materialise. Such contracts should be checked very carefully by an independent lawyer acting solely in your own interests. There are often numerous clauses in these contracts totally in favour of the developer. If the developer claims he has a block booking with a tour operator, ask to see a copy of this contract.

Resales – the advantages - Some of the best property buys available in Bulgaria 2013 are resales. There are many buyers now who bought some years ago and are looking to resell their property. You can find currently many quality properties for sale where the vendor is asking a modest price.

The beauty of buying resale property is not only price; resales are likely to be on established complexes where building work has long since been completed or in areas where the infrastructure is stable.

Snags in the property are likely to have been ironed out by the previous owners, leaving you with no reason to chase developers to fix those little problems, which you had never anticipated.

Negotiation is usually possible with resale property. If your seller is keen to make quick sale, they may be happy to shave a little off the price. Your new property will be ready to move into on completion of the final contract. The occupation date laid out in the contract must be honoured by law by the seller enabling you to relax around your new pool as soon as you return from the notary’s office.

Most resales come with established gardens, making the overall location more appealing.

Resales – the disadvantages - Probably the greatest disadvantage is the fact that you are inheriting someone else’s taste and style, which inevitably means redecorating. This adds a hidden expense to the cost of your purchase as well as unnecessary hassle.

If you are buying a resale with furniture or white goods included in the sale, they will be worn and may not be under guarantee. In such cases, you may find expenses creeping in as you replace malfunctioning white goods.

Not all sellers are transparent and a resale may come with hidden problems such as damp, defective drainage and electrical work. To anticipate the unforeseen, get a professional survey drawn up – if there are any major problems you may opt to negotiate on the price.

The ideal choice? Only you will know what option suits you best. Once you have chosen a location compare both options and weigh up the pros and cons against the price.

TIP: Whether you decide to buy offplan, or resale, take your time making your decision and don’t be pressurised into signing a preliminary contract on the basis that the property will not be on the market long – this is sales talk and there will be plenty more if you pass on the first one you see.