Property deals during summer increase, so is the greed of property agents. Britons who buy for first time in Bulgaria usually trust property agents as the profession of the property agent is very well regulated in UK. However it is not the same case in Bulgaria.
Legal status of property agents in Bulgaria
Currently anyone can become property agent - they just need a website and an advert on some of the biggest property portals. Enquiries will start coming in a while. In their pursue of more closed deals, property agents shovel the buyers with offers and push them to buy. This is not good for buyers in any case. The agent thinks "that his only job is to connect the buyer and the seller" and possibly hide as much information about the defects of the property as they can. Often they don't explain the conveyancing process, what defect the buyer should watch for etc. The bad thing here is that they often discourage buyers from using solicitors too. The agents want to be self sufficient, as they know that most of the properties sold on the market are full of defects. Involving solicitors would mean thorough property checks and subsequently - less deals.
Why not to trust the property agent 100%
First of all - most of them have limited knowledge of the legal aspect of property purchase/sale. Yes, they follow blindly some conveyancing blank forms (ready made general PoAs, declarations etc.), but if a problem appears most likely they won't be able to spot it and warn the buyer. Notaries also make basic checks (like encumbrances check), but they are not obliged to! Notaries only certify and make sure the will of the parties is to sell/buy and the form of the deed is correct.
Remember that notaries act in nobody's interest. They are not supposed to take any party's side and therefore couldn't defend anybody's interest. They are certification authority only!
Since property agents only "connect parties" and some do conveyancing on behalf of their clients, it is not serious to think that they defend buyer's interest. Their benefit is to close the deal and get their commission, not to defend buyer's interest. Often in our practise we see the consequences of such negligent property agents' work - people buy joint property, which they thought it was a full ownership, the property has illegal construction on it etc. In such cases, the property gets devalued immediately, even more - it causes financial damages to the buyer.
Since the property agent profession is not regulated, there is not indemnification. Agents are not obliged to be insured for damages caused to third parties during their professional work. Agents even hide themselves or leave the country. Court proceedings won't do any good too, since the agent companies are often "hollow" entities - there are no assets.
Our advice to new property buyers in Bulgaria is to hire a solicitor when they chose which property to buy. They will pay solicitor's fee, but this is well invested money and it will save them a lot of troubles and lost money in the future.