Selling a house in Bulgaria - remotely

Hi, we have agreed the sale of our house in Krivina, Ruse, Bulgaria but both us (seller) and the buyer are not in Bulgaria. We live in Cyprus and the buyer lives in UK and cannot travel to sign whatever is needed.

We have the title deeds (under person - not company).

Can anybody guide who to contact to have the title deeds transferred to the buyer please?

Kind regards, David Berry.

A notary in Ruse.

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BG embassy in Cyprus for you.

BG embassy in London for the buyer

@GB_2_BG

Hi - thanks for the help - just what we needed!!!

@berryd


As @GB_2_BG writes, you need a notary in Ruse to execute the sale/transfer of the property.


And, further, as @GB_2_BG also writes, you don't need to be present at the notary, you can execute a POA (Power of Attorney) to allow someone present in Bulgaria to sign on your behalf. There are Bulgarian Embassies in both UK and Cyprus, who can witness/notarize your signature. A POA executed at a Bulgarian Embassy is ready for use at a Bulgarian notary, and does not need further legalization or translation.


However... while I'm not an expert on remote transactions... I think it's significantly more complicated than presented by @GB_2_BG.


NOTARY


Firstly, I think it's unlikely the Ruse notary will be OK with an English conversation with an British seller, so there is a potential language (and translation) issue. Secondly, I think the notary is an independent party, so can verify/allow the use of the POA, but can't be the one you delegate to (so you need a trusted third-party - maybe two, as there is both a buyer and a seller - who will go to the notary, with the POA, and sign).  Thirdly, I think the notary will draw up the Notary Act (in Bulgarian), but I don't believe they will draft a legal document like a POA (somebody else has to do it). In other words, you probably need to insert a Bulgarian attorney (I can recommend a very good one, with excellent English) into the mix, as they can liaise with both buyer/seller, and deal with the notary and Notary Act, and draft suitable POAs for both buyer and seller, and go the notary (or nominate their usual gofer). If the seller is not happy with one attorney acting for both sides (it's certainly not recommended by purists), you'll need two attorneys. :-)


To give a similar example, I'm currently buying a property in Bansko, which I'm purchasing via a large property agent. It's a large company, so they have an in-house attorney. He deals with the notary and Notary Act documentation, and prepares the POAs. Because it's a large and reputable agent, both the seller, and I (as the purchaser), are nominating the same person (one of the company's employees) to act as directed by the in-house attorney, and sign for both of us at the notary.


COMPANY


While you purchased in your personal name, I don't think you can ignore the company issue as you're selling a house. You don't say who's buying the property, but as they're in UK, I'm guessing they're British. If they are British they will need to purchase via a Bulgarian company. (If they are EU citizens, or UK citizens with Bulgarian permanent residence, this won't apply, and they, like you, can purchase in their own name.)


I don't think the notary will get involved with company creation issues, so, again, this means you need a Bulgarian attorney in the mix. And a different set of legal documents as you need to incorporate a Bulgarian company, open a Bulgarian company bank account. And you need a different POA.


I'd say there was significant buyer risk in this aspect, so you need to ensure you have a reputable attorney involved.


MONEY


The big issue with remote transactions is not the POA (this is just paperwork), but handling the money.


The buyer needs to give someone the money, and they need to have high confidence that this someone will take it to the notary to buy the property (and will make sure the property is assigned to the buyer, not to themselves or their best mate).


The seller, similarly, should be receiving a (huge, hopefully) sum of money for selling the property. Again, you need a trusted party in the mix to ensure the funds go to the right place.


If the notary will accept an international transfer from the buyer in the UK, and make an international transfer to the seller in Cyprus, then perhaps it's the notary handling this issue. Or perhaps it's another reason for having an attorney involved.

Hi @gwynj,

Thanks for the really detailed information adding to GB2BG reply.

That makes it much clearer - I am a UK "resident" living in Cyprus for 5 years and the buyer is a UK resident.

The sum involved is tiny - we bought the house for 5500 GBP and agreed a sale of 4000 GBP so the risk is low but still present.

I have sent your advice to him so he is fully aware of the requirements and hoping we can get this moving as the house has been empty since early 2021 and I don't want it deteriorating through lack of care,

Best wishes and thanks again, David

@gwynj

I forgot to ask about the notary you mentioned but I don't think we are allowed to pass on contact details.

Contact details can be passed on by using the message system.

@berryd


As you say, the sum involved in quite small, so I doubt either of you is much concerned about the fraud issue. So perhaps the buyer will fine with paying you directly (in one chunk, or deposit/balance) instead of fiddling about with an intermediate step. The Notary Deed merely states that the buyer has paid, and the seller has received payment. The notary doesn't care how you did it, and there's no requirement that the notary is involved in handling the funds, or that the funds are in Bulgaria.


There is a payment to the notary (their fee for the transaction, plus some expenses, plus transfer tax) which is normally paid in cash on the day. Usually, the buyer pays this.


Your seller side is very simple, and just needs a typical POA authorizing someone to sign at the notary on your behalf.


Given what you said, it seems the buyer will need to buy via a company, so their side is more complicated. However, it can again be done remotely using a POA. But this one will authorize an attorney to incorporate a company, and open a company bank account, and sign at the notary as a representative of the company.


And, just to clarify, it's totally doable (and reasonable) to do such a transaction remotely.

@gwynj

Do you still think we need to use the person you referred to or just go for a straight POA?

I have a BG company which was used to allow my wife to buy the house which I am happy to transfer to the buyer plus a bank account with about 30 levs in it (no liabilities) so that seems the best.

Kind regards, David.

@berryd


Sorry, I thought I spotted that it was in your personal names. If you own the property via a company, then, yes, you are absolutely right that you can transfer the company (i.e. ownership of the shares of the company) instead. There is some paperwork involved in transferring/selling the shares, and I don't know if this needs an attorney, or whether the notary can handle it. Plus maybe the buyer wants some reassurance that the company has no debts or issues.

Ruse notaries

https://notary-chamber.bg/bg/notaries?field_notary_id_value=&field_first_name_value=&field_last_name_value=&field_city_tid_i18n=598&field_region_tid=All&postal_code=

Whose name is the house currently in, a personal name, or the company name? In the original post, you say it's under a personal name, not the company name. If that is the case, I'm thinking the buyer would need to first buy the company from you, then buy the house using the company?

It's still going to be a lot easier if they buy a set-up company from you than them having to set up a company and bank account of their own, but does add an extra step if the company doesn't already own the house.

New update, after using a translation app it turns out that the house is actually owned by the business and not by my wife according to the title deeds!

Then it just means we add the buyer as a director and remove us as directors and then he owns the business (and bank account) but also the house? Is that correct please?

@berryd


As you incorporated the company, it makes sense that it owns the property. :-)


Directors (= officers/managers) are separate from shareholders (= owners). And can also be separate from the authorized signatures on the bank account. Although, of course, for small businesses or a business set up to own a house, it would be typical for all to be the same person(s).


You definitely need to transfer/sell the shares of the company too. The company owns the house, so you currently (indirectly) own the house. When you transfer the shares to the buyer, you're effectively transferring ownership of the house to him. Ideally, you transfer the shares and change the directors and update the bank signatures. I don't know how much of this a notary could handle. My guess is that we're back to needing an attorney involved.

@berryd Is your ad about renting a house still relevant? Because I could travel there and check it. Not Immediately though. I'm not in Europe just now.

Hello Mkmg1,


It seems that you are looking for a flat to rent.


You should post an advert in the Housing in Bulgaria section. 1f609.svg


Best of luck,


Cheryl

Expat.com team