If you dig around, you can find plenty of property purchase guides for Bulgaria. So why this one will be different? Well, it is because we are not  property agents and we don’t actually want to sell you property. We are independent solicitors and our job is to advise you in the best possible way, so you don’t get scammed or ripped off while buying your second home or just a investment property in Bulgaria. So let’s begin with the steps:

Finding the property

I assume that if you are reading this you have already  chosen a property to buy. If not, you can google around for local property agents, or you can search ebay.co.uk to find properties in Varna and the region.

Checking the property for encumbrances

Before you buy the property, be sure to ask your solicitor to check it it is free of any burdens. A lawyer in Bulgaria can check for the following:

1. mortgages
2. pending lawsuits
3. injunctions

The above can be checked without the consent of the seller, because the Land Registry provides public register for all properties in Bulgaria. However if you want more specific information about a certain property, you need to ask the actual owner of the property to provide this information. Such specific property information is: plan of the land ( the so called “skitza”); certificate of encumbrances, including the history of the property before 1997;  copy of the title deed etc.

Always ensure that the property you want to buy is free of any encumbrances! Otherwise you might find yourself paying again for previous owner’s debts.

Preliminary agreement

Most of the property agents will say that a preliminary agreement is mandatory.It’s not! They just want to tie you with the particular deal. There is no problem for you to go and directly sign the title deed. There is also no problem if you pay the whole purchase price upon signing the title deed. However if you sign a preliminary purchase agreement, read carefully the clauses or let your solicitor review it before you sign it!

Preparation for purchase of property

You can’t just pay and get the property ownership transfered to you. Certain preliminary things need to be done. First of all you need to register a Bulgarian company if you will be buying land. The process is fairly simple and you just need to follow the steps, your solicitor will tell you.

If you will buy just an apartment or house, without land, there is no need to register a company.

Assuming you are done with the company (or if you don’t need one, in the second case), you can ask your solicitor to prepare the documents, needed for title deed signing. Those documents are (but not limited to): declaration for marital status, company documents (minutes, certificate of good standing etc.), power of attorney (if you will be buying through proxy) etc. Your solicitor will tell you what need to be notarized and legalized.

You need to decide whether you will sign the title deed in person or you will authorize your solicitor.

Title deed signing

This is the final act of the property purchase. Even if you have paid the purchase price before that, you can’t be owner without you having signed the title deed. The title deed have to be signed in Bulgarian notary’s office. The competent notary is the one in whose jurisdiction the property is located. For example if you buy land in Varna or the area around, you need to sign the deed before a Varna notary public. If you don’t speak and read Bulgarian, you need to bring an interpreter with you. If you have paid only deposit, now it’s time to pay the rest of the purchase prise.

What you need to pay upon signing the title deed is: notary fees, local tax (payable only once, upon ownership transaction), Land registry fees, attorney fees, some bank charges.

After the parties sign the title deed in few originals, the notary have to register the deed to the Land registry the same day! If the notary doesn’t register the deed the same day, the title deed might be disputed! OR even worse, someone else could buy the property the same day and if their deed is registered before yours, you can’t become owner. However this is the worst case scenario and it rarely happens.

Post-purchase actions

If you have bought the property as a person, you need to register yourself with the Bulstat register. The latter registry is made to track statistics of all foreigners who buy properties in Bulgaria. The information is also used by the National Revenue Agency to collect data for foreign tax payers.

If you have bought through a Bulgarian company, you don’t need to register with the Bulstat register.

The next mandatory registration is with the local municipality. You need to declare the property as your ownership. This is done via filing a declaration no later than 3 months after you have signed the title deed. If you are late, you can be fined with a penalty for delay. The penalty amount depends on the particular municipality.

You need also to transfer the electricity and water supply bills on your name (on your company’s name). This is done by visiting the suppliers’ local offices. You will probably need interpreter as the employees usually doesn’t speak English.