Property For Sale In Bulgaria: A Guide To Buying A Bulgarian House

Are you looking for property for sale in Bulgaria? Considering purchasing property or land in Bulgaria? If the answer if yes and you’re wanting to buy cheap Bulgarian property, we’re written this guide to help you through the process.

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Rila Lakes: Property For Sale In Bulgaria
Rila Lake: Property For Sale In Bulgaria

Who Can Buy A House In Bulgaria?

Since 2012 all EU persons are allowed to buy land and property in Bulgaria (without registering a business). This applies to houses with gardens, all plots that are within the zoning of settlements, apartments coming with land, offices and other commercial properties. The same regulation applies for citizens of countries from the European Economic Area (EEA), which the UK might be soon a part of or not… Who knows? At the moment we still have no idea how Brexit will impact this.

For all other persons, who are not citizens of the EU or EEA countries, there is a restriction on buying land in Bulgaria however if you want to buy a house in Bulgaria you’ll need to register a Bulgarian company. Please note, buying a property does not entitle non-EU residents you to any kind of permanent visa. This must be sought separately.

The UK Government wrote a handy ‘Buying Property In Bulgaria‘ guide, my only criticism of this is that you do not always require a lawyer as the notary and seller do most of the work. The exception to this would be if you’re going to be spending above £40,000/75,000 Lev.

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Property For Sale In Bulgaria
Burgas Coastline. Property For Sale In Bulgaria

Don’t Buy A Property Before You’ve Visited Bulgaria

I know it can be so tempting. You’ve seen a property online and it’s only £3,000 and you can’t believe your luck and you must buy it now! No. There are a gazillion properties in Bulgaria for £3,000 and whilst I know that you really can’t believe it, please do. Cheap Bulgarian property is incredibly easy to find, once you know how.

Bulgaria is not a large country and nor is it densely populated. The population of Bulgaria is shrinking rapidly and many young people don’t want the burden of taking on their ancestral country home which is usually dilapidated and falling down.  Wages in Bulgaria are the lowest within Europe and the national monthly wage is 1350 Lev. The cost of renovating a house in Bulgaria can easily reach £20,000 although you should budget and be prepared to spend more (over a period of time).

Bulgaria varies enormously from incredibly rural hamlets, to small villages, larger towns and bustling cities. Some villages are entirely dead and if you purchase without seeing, you might be the only inhabitant! Some areas attract large numbers of British immigrants and some areas are much more expensive than others. You absolutely must visit to get an insight into the area.

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Kaliakra Coastline. Property For Sale In Bulgaria
Kaliakra Coastline. Property For Sale In Bulgaria

How To Find Homes For Sale In Bulgaria

Buying a home in Bulgaria is actually easy but you do have to be careful because, like everywhere, there are con men waiting to steal your money.

There are plenty of online property agencies however, these agencies usually hike the price up by three times because they want to attract foreigners who are ‘loose with their money’. These agents understand that Brits can’t buy property in the UK for under £150,000 so advertising a Bulgarian property worth £5,000 for £25,000 means the Brit is going to be attracted by the low cost and the agent will make a ton of profit.

There are many online property agencies out there but these are some of the most popular:

The other option, and the cheaper one, is to buy a property directly from the seller or a private finder. The temptation is to buy from a Brit because there’s no language barrier but sometimes they simply cannot be trusted. Always find reviews of the seller or finder and the best place for this is definitely Facebook.

An easy way to see whether the house is more likely to be designed to attract foreigners is if the listing is in euros or pounds. Always ask for the price in LEV.

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Property For Sale In Bulgaria
Property For Sale In Bulgaria

How To Plan Your Bulgarian Property Inspection Visit

I cannot emphasise enough that you must visit Bulgaria and you must see the property before you buy.

Some areas in Bulgaria, much like every other country, are dreadful and you’d never want to eat lunch there let alone move there. Every area is so different as well that you cannot really predict where will suit you.

Our Top Tips On Planning A Successful Property Inspection Trip:

  1. Do some research into the different regions of Bulgaria. The Black Sea area is very different to most of Bulgaria. Plovdiv has a young vibe whilst Vratsa is the poorest area in Europe.
  2. Find some properties online that you think might suit you and add them to a map. It’s a good idea to view 3 or 4 houses in each area and arrange to visit multiple, different areas. This gives you a rough idea of what to expect.
  3. Make sure you allow enough time to see all those areas and get a feel for them. Don’t see more than four to five houses in a day because they all start to merge into one after a while.
  4. Take photos of the areas & the houses and make notes whilst you’re there to jog your memory. If you take photos on your phone, enable geographic location so it remembers where you were.
  5. Don’t be afraid to go away empty-handed and come back another time. You might not have found the right area or the right country. There is no ego loss to saying ‘this just isn’t the right place for us’.

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Balchik
Balchik. Property For Sale In Bulgaria

Property For Sale In Bulgaria: Is Pay Monthly A Con?

There are lots of properties for sale on a pay monthly scheme (some you can find on Facebook, others on eBay) and whilst this is not a con, it is not advisable to pay for a property over the internet that you have not seen.

I have heard some horror stories about Brits buying on the pay monthly scheme without seeing the actual house and then realising the property has been double sold to another family at the same time. Also, note that some renovation agencies make the houses look really nice and presentable for an internet sale but as soon as you scratch a little deeper, you’ll find it’s all superficial.

So, no, pay monthly is not a con but you should go and see the property and ratify the purchase through the notary before making any payments.

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Belogradchik
Belogradchik. Property For Sale In Bulgaria

What Questions Should You Ask When Doing Research?

If you’re planning on buying cheap Bulgarian property and renovating it yourself, you will need to be able to look past the squalor and look for the potential.  The Bulgarian language can be challenging to learn. I’d recommend taking an independent translator with you who can help advise on the area and whether the house is overpriced.

Like every country, certain Bulgarian areas can have problems. These are some questions you might want to consider asking:

  • What is the property tax per year and what are the garbage collection rates?
  • What is the local mayor like? If the local mayor is ineffective or corrupt you might not get any local services.
  • What is the rate of unemployment?
  • Is poverty a big issue?
  • Is there high crime in the area? Theft and burglary tend to be the main problems.
  • Are there high levels of British immigrants? (which themselves can bring problems)
  • Is there a reliable internet source? If there’s no internet but you’re promised a good 4G signal, don’t even consider it. Satellite internet is grossly overpriced and often a con as they taper the speed after your first few months.
  • Does the house benefit from new windows and doors? This is a big expenditure if it doesn’t.
  • Older houses do not benefit from septic tanks but soak-away systems. If you’re putting in a new bathroom, you are responsible for adding a septic tank. If you’re buying a house from a renovation agent and they’ve installed a new bathroom but no septic tank, this is illegal. Check out Sewage Solutions BG for more info. You might find British builders offering to build you a septic tank from breeze blocks. This is also illegal and you cannot be issued with a compliance certificate.
  • Electrical circuits are often wired on the same circuit thus meaning that only one circuit can work at one time. This is not fun if you wish to turn on a few lights and the kettle at the same time! Check the electricity and really don’t accept anything done by a Bulgarian electrician. If the wiring hasn’t been done in years, budget for a rewire. Check out A1 Electrical BG for more info.
  • Check for damp and leaking roofs. This can be another big expenditure.
  • Is there damp in the house?
  • Does the house have an internal bathroom? You’d be surprised how many don’t.
  • Check for an internal staircase. If you plan on spending winter in Bulgaria, you’ll want an internal staircase!
  • Does the property have a skitza and relevant paperwork?
  • Ask who is responsible for checking the debt?  Any debt belongs to the house, meaning that any debts on the house are transferred with the sale.
  • If you have kids: Are there schools, local clubs or activities in the area for kids? Are local children amenable to foreign kids? Are there foreign kids in the area? Are the local schools able to receive non-Bulgarian speaking kids?
  • Are there local shops? How frequently do they open?
  • Where is the nearest DIY shop?

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Property For Sale In Bulgaria
Property For Sale In Bulgaria

What Prices In Bulgaria Should You Expect?

Bulgaria properties can range in price from £3,000 up to £90,000 although always agree on a price in LEV!

The area will largely dictate the price but also the condition of the house. Popular places include anywhere along the Black Coast, Plovdiv and Veliko Turnovo. Properties in these areas are likely to be far more expensive than a rural area.

The weather and how vulnerable the village or town is will also affect the price.

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Property For Sale In Bulgaria
Property For Sale In Bulgaria

Don’t Panic Or Rush Buy Your Home In Bulgaria

The property market in Bulgaria is slow so don’t panic or be pushed around by salespeople. Bulgarian houses can spend years on the market and it’s incredibly unlikely that anybody will come in and gazump you – regardless of what the estate agent or seller might say.

Cheap houses in Bulgaria are ten a penny and you can literally find them anywhere.

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Property For Sale In Bulgaria
Property For Sale In Bulgaria

Making An Offer

There’s a common misconception that foreigners pay double than the locals. This is not always true although there’s definitely an ‘English price’ and Bulgarian people do see the English as ‘being so rich they can throw money away’.

It is normal to haggle the price but you don’t want to irritate the sellers by offering something that is so low it’s insulting.   It can be hard to gauge how much the house is worth so do ask around.  I would recommend tapping into any knowledge you can find and for starting off, this will probably be Bulgarian Forums on Facebook.

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Purple Lavender Bulgaria
Purple lavender Bulgaria

Property For Sale In Bulgaria: The Purchase Process

You should aim to complete within 30 days if you’re paying cash. Try and push for quick completion, it can be done in a matter of days if not weeks.

  1. The chosen property needs to be reserved and taken off the market. Some agencies will request a deposit where some might not ask for the deposit until the preliminary contract is signed. Larger agencies will accept a deposit paid with a credit or bank card however finders or smaller agencies will ask for a cash deposit. Expect to pay roughly 10% as a deposit and always ask for a stamped receipt. You can pay the deposit through the notary if you wish.
  2. You’ll need to find a translator as all contracts are completed in Bulgarian and it is a legal requirement that you understand what you’re signing. The agent or finder cannot translate for you as this would be a conflict of interests. We had our contracts written side-by-side in Bulgarian & English – although the English can never formally be used, it helps the process. It is a legal requirement that you have a translator.
  3. The preliminary agreement with the owner must be signed within 30 days. The agreement settles the basic conditions which will later be copied to the Notary Deed. The conditions include a description of the property, a drawing of the land, the price, whether any debts are included with the house, the conditions and terms of payment and for off-plan properties – the terms for finishing the property. This is a legal document and once you’ve signed it, you cannot back out of the purchase agreement.
  4. Drawing up of the Notary Deed (same as Title Deed in the UK) which is considered the legal document certifying the ownership of the property, is drawn up by the local notary in the presence of the buyer and the seller or the seller’s representative.
  5. It is expected that you will pay in cash. The Notary will leave the room whilst the cash changes hands. Because we were buying from British people, we paid by bank transfer whilst we were in the Notary’s office and provided proof to our finder.
  6. The Notary certifies the deed and registers it with the Registry Agency. You’ll get a copy of the deeds in Bulgarian. Keep them safe and do not leave them in the house if you leave the house unattended during winter etc.

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Sofia Levsky Cathedral
Sofia Levsky Cathedral

Property For Sale In Bulgaria: The Annual Tax On The Property

After buying a property in Bulgaria you are liable for annual property taxes. There are usually two property taxes to be paid: property tax and garbage collection (which is optional), which are paid at the local municipality.

Our annual council tax is about 25 lev and the additional land we bought is about 20 lev per year.


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Renting a car is easy & cheap in Bulgaria. Read our guide to driving in Bulgaria.

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Bulgarian Properties for sale. A guide to buying a house in Bulgaria

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