Everything You Need to Know about Buying Property in Bulgaria
Buying property in Bulgaria? Not a problem, this article serves as a guide to buying property in Bulgaria, what to expect, steps to take, procedures and other useful information.
Buying property in Bulgaria as a Foreigner
According to the Property Act (Art. 29 and Art. 29a), foreigners have the right to acquire immovable property, but not land.
As of January 1, 2012, only citizens of the EU and EEA may purchase land in Bulgaria. This includes Bulgarian properties with gardens, Bulgarian properties with shares of land, and any plot within the zone of settlement.
Steps for buying property in Bulgaria
1. Searching to buy property in Bulgaria
You can start by browsing through Bulgarian properties on our website. When you find something interesting, you can directly communicate with the real estate agent.
2. Preliminary agreement
When you have decided to buy property in Bulgaria, the next step is the preliminary agreement, it will serve as the framework to the final contract, and the conditions are as follows:
- It must be completed in writing
- It must include all essential terms and conditions needed to be met by both parties
- It must state: the property, the price, the parties involved in the transaction, and the deadline for the final contract in the form of a title deed
- Recommended: checked by your independent lawyer before signing
- Recommended: the presence of a lawyer during the signing of the preliminary agreement
In general, real estate agencies offer standardized preliminary contracts to their clients.
Note that the preliminary agreement serves as a legal guarantee, giving it the grounds for filing a claim before a court. Under the preliminary agreement, either party is entitled to file a claim to declare the contract final, as long as that party has fulfilled its obligations written in the preliminary agreement.
3. Payment of a partial amount of purchasing price
During the preliminary contract phase, both parties usually agree upon the payment of a set partial amount. It usually amounts to 10% of the total purchasing price. An agreement of the final payment amount is also confirmed here.
4. Title Deed
All parties contributing to the preliminary agreement will appear before the notary and sign the title deed. The notary public of the area (where the property is located) will have jurisdiction. You can find all the registered notaries public in Bulgaria here.
The property seller is obliged to submit all original documents regarding the Bulgarian property, proving the ownership. The notary will check:
- Your identification, the identification of all parties
- Whether there are any legal impediments to the transfer of Bulgarian property
- That the submitted preliminary agreement meets legal requirements
- Whether the sellers is the actual owner of the Bulgarian property
- Whether the preliminary agreement conditions were met
The title deed will be signed before the notary and (recommended) your independent lawyer. The notary will provide you with a copy of the title deed of the Bulgarian property.
When the title deed is signed, the notary will directly place it into the Registry Office (of the area where the property is located). The Judge of Registration will order the registering of the title deed with the Property Registry at the Registry Agency. This will ensure the buyer’s rights, in cases of possible claims by third parties.
After this process, the buyer will acquire property rights, such as renting out or selling of the Bulgarian property and other.
6. Property Tax Declaration
After the title deed is registered at the Registry Agency, you must file a tax declaration, and begin payment of the Annual Property Tax in Bulgaria. Since 2011, the Annual Property Tax in Bulgaria is payable in two equal instalments, between the 1st of March to the 30th of June, and up until the 30th of October (pre-paying the total amount due for the year results in a 5% discount).
The declaration is filed at the Local Taxes and Fees Department at your local Municipality. You will have only 2 months, starting from the moment the title deed is registered, to declare the tax. There are penalty payments for tardiness, ranging between BGN 10 and 400.
The following documents are needed for declaring the Annual Property Tax in Bulgaria:
- The tax declaration form of Art. 14 of the LTFA (Local Taxes and Fees Act)
- Original and copy of documents of property ownership
- For new construction: Act 16* or Certificate of Commissioning
- For primary housing: Decision of the Territorial Expert Medical Commission
Taxes and Fees for buying property in Bulgaria
- Notary fees
- Fee for the registration of the title with the Property Register at the Registry Agency
- Tax for the acquisition of property
- Other fees: lawyers, consultants, real estate agents
The tax rate for each municipality is determined by the municipal council. The annual property tax in Bulgaria is calculated based on the highest amount between both the tax evaluation on the property and the agreed upon purchasing price.
To buy property in Bulgaria, be aware that all contracts/documents will be written in Bulgarian. If you do not understand the Bulgarian language, make sure that all of your contracts/documents are translated by an independent translator. You can find accredited translators in Bulgaria here. Note that contracts written only in the Bulgarian language apply in court.
It is recommended for anyone buying property in Bulgaria, to choose an independent lawyer specialized in the law of Bulgarian properties. An independent lawyer must be someone working on your behalf and looking after your interests, instead of the interests of real estate agents or developers. Consider finding a lawyer having no relation to your real estate agent or developer.
If your lawyer is based in Bulgaria, you may check for the lawyer’s registration number with the Bulgarian Bar Association through the Bulgarian Bar Register.
The Bulgarian Registry Agency cautions for increased trends in crimes related to misappropriation of property carried out by a range of establishments, from lawyers to businesses. Before completing the process of buying property in Bulgaria (before signing the preliminary agreement), make sure to check:
1. The Land Registry (кадастрална скица) from your local municipality for the following details:
- The property / land for sale match the details registered
- The sellers are the registered owners (and the only owners)
- There are no debts or charges (such as mortgage) on the property
- There are no legal proceedings against the property construction
2. Planning permission (виза за проектиране) ensuring that the property is a legal build.
3. Building restrictions, checked at the Town Planning Department of the local Municipality
4. Undergo a property survey (optional but recommended) by independent property surveyor
5. The Cadastral Value of the property, check at the Cadastre (official public register)
6. Act 16*, at the local Municipality
7. A paid receipt for the previous owner’s Annual Property Tax in Bulgaria. Check at the local Municipality for any unpaid taxes by previous owner.
8. A paid utility receipt ( by previous owner)
9. Recommended: documented evidence that the property is not under any liability
Note that buying property in Bulgaria that is off-plan will involve more risk. If you want to buy property in Bulgaria that is not found in the Land Registry, a Municipal Sketch (регулационна скица) is issued.
Bulgarian Properties and Act 16
Act 16 is the status of Bulgarian properties that are officially recognized as habitable (that it has electricity and a water supply, that it has been inspected etc.), without Act 16, you cannot officially stay at the residence because it is technically uninhabitable. This can cause various issues with legalities, and can make the property much less valuable (even less than the acquired purchasing price) when attempting to resell.
Other costs associated with buying property in Bulgaria
Foreigners staying for a long or a short term in the Republic of Bulgaria need health insurance, or bare the full price of the medical service. For citizens of the EU, EEA, and Switzerland, as of 16 September 2009, a procedure for the coordination of social security systems is in force.
Waste Management Fees
The Municipal Council determines the waste management fee. After buying property in Bulgaria, payment of a waste management fee is required to the respective Municipality of your area of residence.