Buying real estate in Bulgaria: Live where others vacation

Since 2012, citizens from the European Union are allowed to purchase not only buildings, but also the land on which the buildings are located. Below we provide tips and information on buying real estate in Bulgaria.
Popular regions and price level
While until the new regulation in 2012 only residents of the country were allowed to purchase land in Bulgaria, now foreigners are also allowed to do so, provided they are citizens of a European Union country. A look at the most popular regions shows that airports in particular are of great importance. Thus, there is a particularly high demand for real estate in the vicinity of the Varna and Burgas airports, and the mountains in the interior of the country also attract buyers. At the same time, these are also the most popular locations for vacation properties. The Black Sea coast is also in high demand, with prices for apartments there starting at around 30,000 euros. The mountains near Borovets or Bansko can be found south of Sofia, where prices for new villas are around 100,000 euros. Given this price level, it seems all too understandable that many Bulgaria fans decide to purchase their own property in the country. 
The costs associated with the purchase are two percent for notary and registration fees, plus another two to four percent in land transfer tax, depending on the region. In some cases, there is already talk of five percent. The broker's fee is split between the buyer and seller, so that each has to pay half. The property tax to be paid annually is 0.15 percent. These additional costs are often forgotten, but require that a certain amount of equity be kept on hand.
Buying land in Bulgaria: What you should pay attention to when buying real estate
Above all, it is important to clarify whether the offered property is actually owned by the respective seller, because one of the biggest - and not unfounded - fears of real estate buyers is that the object of their dreams actually has another owner. It is advisable to ask for proof of ownership for the last ten years, which can be done, for example, by presenting a title deed. A notarial deed, a contract or the extract from the land register are possible forms of proof here. In this context, every buyer should know that he cannot rely on the notary alone, because the notary is not obliged to carry out the verification of ownership. He also does not have to point out to the buyer whether the purchase will later be contestable in court. This is where the help of a lawyer or experienced real estate agent is important, who is familiar with the applicable local laws and knows which authority to obtain the necessary documents from.
As a buyer, you should be aware of any encumbrances that may be on the property. For this purpose, obtain a current certificate, and also, when buying a new property, a so-called commissioning certificate. This is also called certificate no. 16 and allows the use of the property. If the certificate is not available, you may not be able to occupy the property. 
Furthermore, the certificate according to Article 87 of the Tax and Insurance Procedural Code is important, because it gives a statement that the owner of the property is free of debts to the state. Such a certificate is also filled in by the owner as part of the purchase contract, but there is no certainty that this statement is correct. The official certificate under the Tax and Insurance Procedural Code is issued by the state and is therefore binding.
Normally, a purchase contract is concluded first, which is characterized by a down payment. This is usually between 10 and 20 percent of the purchase price. Buyers should insist on a receipt certifying that the down payment has been made. The preliminary contract should also specify the procedure for possible withdrawal from the contract. If services are rendered, it is essential that the contract and the purpose of use are listed on the receipts so that there is no duplication of claims. Some sellers use little concretely formulated payment instruction and demand the amount simply again. Also for this reason it is always important to rely on a trustworthy broker and/or lawyer, because one thing must be admitted: There are definitely few serious sellers in Bulgaria (as well as in other countries). Therefore, it is also important to have the preliminary contract carefully checked, so that the risk is distributed appropriately.
No obligation to be present: purchase through an authorized representative
For the conclusion of the preliminary contract and also for the notarial contract to be drawn up afterwards, the personal presence of the purchaser is not mandatory. A lawyer or a person with a power of attorney can also handle these transactions. However, it is important that the granted power of attorney is also valid and that it entitles to purchase a property at all. The power of attorney should therefore be checked for legal validity, and the content should also be checked. Furthermore, you should "send" only one person of your confidence to the purchase of the real estate and/or to the regulation of the details, so that you are not overreached at the end.
Even if you cannot be there yourself to settle the purchase, you should not decide to buy on a vacation whim. Visit the chosen place several times, talk to the people there. See the area through the eyes of a local and check all the facilities that may be important for further life here. Are shopping facilities and service providers on site? What about medical care? Are there other expatriates nearby? Many of these points may not seem relevant at first glance, but they turn out to be quite important in daily life and can become a serious problem if they do not fit. Furthermore, you should of course carefully examine the documents provided: It is best to make sure on the spot that the property described is actually where it is stated to be.
Special case: Purchase of building maintenance and agricultural land
Not every property may be freely purchased by foreigners, even if they come from the European Union: We are talking about building maintenance and agricultural land. Both types of land can only be purchased through a legal entity, which is why it is necessary to establish a Bulgarian company. This company buys the property, which in turn can be used by the interested party. However, the company holds the property and is not active in business. But be careful: A zero balance must still be prepared every year, which is associated with costs. Up to 300 euros are incurred annually for this. EU farmers are allowed to buy agricultural land, which has been possible without any problems since 2014. Actually, an extension of the purchase ban until 2020 was to be achieved, but the Constitutional Court in Sofia had declared the purchase ban to be terminated and even unconstitutional. However, prices for good agricultural land have risen since then and in some cases differ threefold from previous farmland prices.