Buying in Bulgaria

Has anyone had the experience of buying a property off E-Bay or other sites in which they have not viewed the property before they bought it?.There are 4 or 5 sellers in the area in which i am going to buy some say they will help in arranging travel and places to stay after you buy off them and view property for the first time.Is it possible just to arrive in the main town of the area and just look at properties yourself(like English estate agents)?.

buster900 are you on the hunt for new shoes or a property? I would never suggest or give an idea to anyone to buy a property without 1st looking at it at least. I think you either have tons of money to waste or you have been very lucky not to be cheated.

Thanks WorldExpat,When i say pay for it first i meant the deposit but even then that would be enough if you did not like the property or it was not as good as described when viewing it,how did you go about buying yours?(and i aint got tons of money to waste so i am ever careful with it.

I am also considering getting some property in BG while the prices being asked are still low by US standards. But, although I love to browse the offerings on eBay and out on the 'net, directly from estate agents, it's extremely doubtful that I'd buy sight-unseen. That's much too risky and uncertain, even with the better estate agents.

What I would recommend (and this is based on my successful, 'web-initiated acquisition of some very nice property in Hawaii some years ago) would be to use eBay and the 'net primarily as a research tool, to identify regions/towns/villages/developments you find attractive and particular estate agents who seem to frequently offer what, in general, you're looking for. Learn all you can about everything you can before actually committing any significant money!

Once you can identify exactly what sort of property you want and where, correspond with the estate agents you've identified from afar, see if they seem helpful and honest, then get your financing in order, go out to the BG area(s) you know you're interested in from past 'web adverts, and have one or more of your pre-screened estate agents show you what they've got... then.

If you can, go even one step further and rent a place in your prospective new home for awhile. See if it's still what you want after living there a bit!  And of course, use the extra time to take it slow and look at even more properties around the area - there's no shortage of properties to choose from, and an honest agent will want to see that you are satisfied in the end - not just stampede you into the first place they show and then disappear with their fee!

All this is pretty obvious, maybe, but a lot of foreign buyers apparent do fall in love with mere pictures and glowing ad copy, gamble on some property from a distance and get burned (and not just in BG) ... the horror stories are all over the 'web.

"Seeing is believing"...and personal contact, based on trust and professionalism
As a Bulgarian lawyer, familiar with the buying process and the nature of the Bulgarian real estate agents, I will recommend you first to choose the right person or company for you to trust. There are many estate agents ready to sell you a piece of the moon for an easy commission. And, of course, there are a lot of diligent and competent people living in their shaddow. If you do not know anybody in this business could be a lottery.
Never buy anything you have not seen personally and checked with a legal professional.Pictures and ads of course are always perfect because they want to fish you.But many times it appears that the "worm" is not as advertised. There are many hidden features and traps for one who wants to buy a property.Per example there are some rural Bulgarian properties which are presented very well in the ad, the price is low and the photo is amazing. But when you visit the property you understand that there is not a proper sewage system or it is located close to a gipsy settlement, or that the ownesrship title is imperfect, etc.,etc.

Thank you for the very helpful replies,really all that has been written i believe is right.To be honest i would rather go to a Bulgarian estate agent who knows the village and surrounding areas,and maybe the local people.SavinaS have you ever dealt with any estate agents or lawyers from the town of Popovo that you would  recommend as this is the closest town to where i want to live....

buster900 we sold a property in BG few years ago. We are now searching only the inventory and if we find something we really like, we will fly over to see it before we even consider putting $ down for a deposit. Our last experience on a property we liked was with a title that needed to be redone and no one could tell us how long it would take. I have to agree 100% with Savina & zhorkon. I would never even consider a deposit unless I see the property, the neighborhood, the city, etc.

My idea when starting consultancy services originally was to help Englishmen with all the issues regarding property in Bulgaria because I know the people, I know the language and I know the law. If you wish I will find for you some property in Popovo, just I need to know your requirements regarding the type, if you want land as well, your budget, when you want it, etc. I may even accompany you when you visit the so chosen property and interpret for you and check the documents.Please, let me know what ate your thoughts and if needed I may start with the research.

SavinaS > use the pm system please, promoting your professional services is not allowed on the forum

Sorry. Thanks for the advice.

Hello buster900,

I'm an American, my wife is Bulgarian.  Last fall we began hunting for an apartment to buy together here in Burgas.  We finally found the place we were looking for last month.

Get yourself a reputable local real estate agent, I can certainly recommend the woman who helped us.

We encountered several apartments being sold by people who were trying to fool us.  Wooden floors covered with cement were being sold as cement floors.  Prices inflated, ownership in question - claims against the seller unresolved in other words.

Our real estate agent took care of ALL the details, she discovered the seller had an ex-wife who had failed on a claim against his property.  She lined up the Notary, the lawyers, the banks -- our seller had a mortgage we had to deal with in the purchase price.

Now is the best possible time to buy apartment property in Burgas, but I would never trust the sellers without the professional help of people like our real estate agent.

Of course, my wife is Bulgarian, she understand the local mentality, what people may try to get away with, what stories are crap and what aren't.

I believe the price we paid to our real estate agent was more than worth the confidence we were able to feel about the legality of our purchase.

Don't buy on EBay, don't buy from random strangers trying to sell you property.

Hi I just asw the posting about buing a bulgarian house off E BAY PLEASE,PLEASE dont even thin about it,I now have a house in Bulgaria and love it,but it was ebay that i 1st saw cheap houses,I did fly out and look at the houses i was interested in,boy was i glad i did,2 where in a real bad gypsy area,2 where in a small village where all but 2 houses were empty and was swarming with rats/pack dogs,3 were NOT the houses as shown but sheds in fields that diddnt belong to the sellers?
I bought fro a bulgarian estate agent but have since found that i was being ripped off,and was paying for everything in euros not levs,there is a superb estate agent in yambol area and i would recommend BGdreamhomes,(nick penny)he will also see to all your after sales taxes,re registering comapany and a good price too.

oh dear ! i am thinking of buying a property in BG and hoping i could trust the estate agents. Seems the cheapest area is Veliko Tarnovo as there seems to be so many large houses there at not a lot of money.
I would prefer to be at the Varna side of the country in Dobrich but it does seem very flat there and i like mountains, hilly country and lots of trees and greenery.
If anyone can suggest a good area for an xpat who likes scenery please go ahead. Be nice to find an area with a lot of xpats so i won't feel so much a stranger !

simbol if you want an area with lots of xpats, then you have look at the bigger cities, but there the prices are higher. If you want much mountains, stay on the west side or even better, on the N/W side of the country. N/W the housing prices are such a low, if not the lowest in the country.

There are a lot of expats living in Veliko Tarnovo and the surraunding area - Geshaview, Gostilitsa, Gabrovo, etc.I think people are attracted not only by the low prices but the great scenery as well.

SavinaS :

I think people are attracted not only by the low prices but the great scenery as well.

Sure no ? of that, but if you could combine both?! You can't beat the housing prices in the N/W part of the country and have great scenery still, if not better than Turnovo, Gabrovo...! Also, quality of air, pollution as whole, travel to Sofia... Yes it is not all good, there is no much opportunity for business there, but that is why the prices are record low there. Not much manufacturing, but that is why the air is so much cleaner.

Every region has its own Ambassador...

As far as I am aware there is not so much manifacturing in all parts of Bulgaria. As it is for Veliko Tarnovo and the surrounding area - the air is clean and there is not any pollution/In Tryavna per example people say it's the purest air and in the past they've built a hospital for pulmonary diseases/.Combined with low prices, a lot of expats living there, historical and cultural heritage,great sceneries, great location/same distance from the capital and from the sea-coast/ and business opportunities, I guess which one is the winner.

I lived 30 years in Bulgaria, WordExpat against your 7...
And yes,I am not impartial - I used to live in the area of Veliko Tarnovo...

Aha... you are not impartial Savina. If anyone asks me, I would move to the S/W part - great weather, long summer, great springs and indian summers, hardly any winter, it is more like a fall in the UK, close to Greece, nice folks. By no means I would pursue someone to a certain region. I just expressed my view on the subject, and have no business or other such interest. Just chatting with fellow xpats to be.

Bty, it is not enough only to live somewhere for 30 years, it matters how much you traveled, what you saw, learned, but not only as a local, correct me if I am wrong. When one is born and raised one place things may look different to him/her, than to an expat ;) You ought to know both ends of the stick if you are an expat as well!

Yes, I have to agree that Tryavna is a nice city as well. There are many nice cities, but again it all depends on what one is looking for and what the region is offering. For expats I think it is important to be close to large cities, preferably as close as possible to Sofia cause of the international airport, the embassies, availability of medical care in native language, or for that matter qualified medical care, other things such as international foods, cafes, theaters, operas, newspapers, magazines, international schools, the list could go on and on.

BTY, not sure of the reason why a pulmonary care hospital was built in a city that has no patients for it?! I am just scratching my head on this one. Care to explain? A patient with pulmonary disease usually has to have an immediate care when in need. If it is for chronically sick  patients, again, it makes no sense to have a hospital in a region where no need for it in the surrounding.

Hi Worldexpat. Ok if you would move to the SW area, what towns or villages are we talking about ?
I do not know this country yet so i would like to know names of Towns or villages so i can look and read about them to see what they are like and if they are going to suit me.
So far i have read a lot about Veliko Tarnovo and it sounds a great area and the property prices are very low.. with a good choice. I have seen some great houses and villas in the areas near mostly to the north i think. I also saw a wonderful 5 bedroom house in Rouse which was all in good condition. I am scared of a renovation because of the language problem so i guess i will have to stick to renovated properties although i have done a lot of renovation in the UK.
I have read Savina's comments and they have been helpful to me as well. I think you both have your " favourite " areas and i am interested in them all. At the moment i am open to any information and i will certainly listen to any good advise you can give. I am thinking my budget will probably stretch to about £30,000 although i could pay more. I think i could buy a very nice house for much less than that even, especially in Veliko Tarnovo. I have seen a great place in Dryanovo for £21000 and then a lovely place in Veliko again for only £9000 , so it is very confusing !  Nice though that they are so inexpensive in Bulgaria.
What i am looking for really is somwhere that is surrounded with trees, greenery and with perhaps distant mountain views to enjoy. I do not want to be isolated though and would like a major town or city within easy reach for pleasure and the daily essentials.
So i hope i can get a lot of help and i am planning my first trip to Bulgaria which will be in April or May this year.
Good Luck to you and keep in touch , your comments are valued.

Yes, it would be best to go there, view properties for yourself and make enquiries about the title deeds, family situation as all members of the family need to sign a document to release title deeds.  Ask about this.

simbol I said S/W cause I found it to have very nice weather, still mountains within sight/short distance if you care for the snow. I loved Sandanski, however, from what I know about it, it is more like of a vacation destination town, it has mineral water spas. Melnik - a very small city, but it has great wine ;) It has a wonderful historic part. Blagoevgrad, I think is a dissent size, but a completly different feel, not like Melnik or Sandanski, closer to Sofia though and to one of the great BG resorts - Bansko, which has steep prices, but worth it if you can afford it. Both Melnik and Sandanski are fairly small compared to UK cities and quite a bit of a distance from Sofia, but the sun there is perfect and since they both are somewhat more of a touristic type of destination, during the summer months it is much crowded compared to the rest of the year, the biggest advantage is the mineral water there. Prices in the last two could be steep for a dissent size&condition property, that compared to the N/W part of the country.

Once you go there, travel a little bit, you will get the feel for the areas and then you can make a better choice. Watch out for gipsy neighborhoods, for the neighborhoods that include the tall communist type of buildings that are so popular in BG and other easter European countries. I do not think they are bad in any way, just they are not well maintained and view could be bothersome over time.

Good luck with your search. I am sure you will find what you are looking for, but do not forget to stop by here and share your point of view.

I live in Veliko Tarnovo. It is the best place in Bulgaria!! But never, never buy unseen. Use an agency that is internationally known, not little local ones. Don't be afraid to make an offer, and enquire of ex-pats for the name/address of a good lawyer. You will need one and they are not expensive.Look before you buy but remember, standards of workmanship here are not always the same as UK. The best advice you have already been given. Rent for a year and learn the ropes. It will save you money and avoid disappointment.

You may also like Yambol area,I live about 20mins drive from here and its a beautiful city,I small word of warning though Simbol do not mention on any public site your budget or how much you are willing to spend ,not a good move if they think you have plenty they will charge you plenty,the sum you mentioned on a previous message makes you look rather wealthy compared to bulgarians who live a much simpler life,my example is when i went out to veiw a lovely liitle farmhouse in a beautiful village I was asked my budget also,I was told the price for the house was £25,000 plus fees by a agent,I later bought it for 3,000lev inc fees because i never told my new agent how much i wanted to spend,I have what i call my bulgarian "mum" who is in her 70s we spend so much time together and i cant speak bulgarian nor she english but we have a understanding and both know what the other is going on about,having renovations is no problem there are some very good bulgarian builders just that standards are not as high,the gypsy neighbourhoods are not as bad as everyone makes out,although i live about 20mins from a alrge area I have had no problems and have walked through this area alone,can i ask why you want to move to a city?

Hi Jayne,

Thank you so much for the advice. What you say totally makes sense and i understand where you're coming from on the subject of money. In answer to your quwestion , i do not want to live in a city or big town bit in an area close to it so it would be just a short drive. i want a rural property or somewhere in a pretty mountainous area.
I am being told that Veliko tarnovo is nice but i am totally open to suggestion and if anyone wants to suggest a particular village near to a town i will have a look in May when i will be in Bulgaria to see what is available.
One last question please. Should i buy renovated or a cheaper house to renovate myself ?
I am tempted to spend less initially, kind of hedge my bets a little then renovate .
I think i would perhaps get more satisfaction from putting my own stamp on a place but then i have to say that i have seen some fantastic places that have already been done.... though they do cost very much more.
Over to you ?  Regards

Hi Simbol we live in the Elenski Balkan in the heart of the Stara Planina mountains near Elena.Its a fantastic area and a testimony as Bulgarians come here for thier holidays. Elena is very cosmopolitan and very pretty.There are lakes waterfalls and fabulous wildlife. There are expats in the district,people are friendly and helpful...Its between Veliko and Sliven and so only 40mins drive from the Blue stone national park which is stunning to say the least..I would advise you come over and explore for a while .PM me if you need accomadation or any help whatsoever. Weve lived here 4 years so have loads of insider infor from an expat point of view and loads of reliable contacts

Bought house in Strandja forest in 2007.  did not complete the legalities so do not "own" it.   I worked in the forest as a shepherdess, learnt the language and have a Bulgarian fiance.  I am in negotiations right now with the sellers to see if they will agree to "sell" the house to me "again".  I paid 30,000 lev for it. And fees to a lawyer.  I have nothing for that.  I am in despair at present waiting for a reply from the sellers.  If you have any words of hope would be glad to hear them right now.

How long have you known that you did not own the property, and do you live there full time i am sure that there will be a lawyer on here that may be able to help you i would be devastated if something like that happens when i come over to Bulgaria to buy a property.I do hope everything turns out alright for you and that it gets sorted in your favour.

How did it happen, I am confused? You paid money and you visited a lawyer and you paid him too??? Do you have any documents signed by you and the other party or at least for the amounts paid?
The ownership over real estate passes from the seller to the buyer only with a notary deed after persentation of the ownership title of the seller, declarations, sketch, etc. and the entry of the document in the Registry Agency. The notary deed is signed by the Notary and the parties. The figure of the Notary guarantees that the purchase is legal. After the purchase the notary deed should be entered in the Registry Agency, to protect the rights of the new owner. If it is not any other person may oppose his notary deed, claiming that he is the owner.
I hope you mean that you did not take your copy of the notary deed and the person you visited is a Notary, not a lawyer. If so, please go to his office and ask for copy of the notary deed, entered in the Registry Agency.
The other option I could possibly think of having in mind the data you provided, is that you have entered in a preliminary agreement for the sale of the property, but in this case you should have a copy of the preliminary agreement. This agreement could be composed by a lawyer and it does not need notary certification.
Do you remeber what happened when you have been to the office of the so called lawyer and which documents you have signed????

OMG It seems that purchasing property in Bulgaria is a nightmare.  Will it be any better in 2012 when the 'Company" thing is changed? I heard that five years after joining EU matters around buying property was going to change

It is not "scary" when you use competent professional. It is scary when you act on your own, relying on people's honesty in Bulgaria. Sorry to say that.

The problem is that there are so many scammers, it is hard to weed out the good from the bad. And the bad are many, many. A house advertised to be on slab, with central water and sewage, but when you go there to take a look, it turns out that is on septic, and it only has central water outside of the house, not even in the house, no bathroom inside, no shower. It is far from slab, but rather old house with no concrete at all, the roof is falling apart. And the agent does not even know if the title is clean when you ask him straight forward... :o  So watch out!

hi all we arrived in bg tues night its frezzing lol

First of all to WorldExpat I would like to say that reading your posts basically shows me that you are well out of date with some of your Bulgarian advice. Since 2006 I have spent time in Sofia and Varna and now living near VT. Both big cities are just that, big cities, too many people and expensive and people have less time for you. In the country more and more Bulgarians are speaking English and are very helpful even in places like KAT and the government offices. The health service has been super and there are English speaking medical staff in many places, no waiting lists like the UK.
I know we should speak Bulgarian but it is a difficult language and takes a while to get to grips with but as long as we try most people will try to help.
As for buying property, please come to visit first, if possible rent in your chosen area to see if you like it. Don't think you can buy for investment but if you buy to stay it's a great place. Unless things have changed again as they seem to do often I think the 'no company needed' is 2014 but even company set up and annual tax returns are much easier now. As in all things foreign in strange countries, be careful. Plenty of happy expats here.

Thanks to all who are so informative.  When you are just at the WANT TO stage with absolutely no hands on experience and rely on people with experience it is good to get all views.  Of course going and seeing for yourself is the only way to do it but living in Australia I guess I would like to know if it is even worth going.  I am 62 female alone and love it that way but feel perhaps i may be even more at risk eg (here comes a novice).

seems worldexpat sometimes puts a negative slant on things but is still worth reading and maybe being a bit cautious. Not sure what to believe these days. Would be great to hear from more English " expats " about the way they live in BG. I am remaining positive about my first visit in 2 weeks time when i hope i will feel just as excited about Bg as i do at the moment.
Anyone out there wanna tell me some good things. I am going to the Gabrovo area and going to look at some property in the surrounding areas and then have a look at the City of VT. It all sounds good to me !

Hi simbol,
Unless you are going back and forth to the UK regularly or have kids that need certain things you don't need to be too near to a big city. VT, Gabrovo, Sevlievo area is very good, not too expensive and all you need in the shops & Docs department. Local ski resort called Uzana is only up the road if you like playing in the cold stuff. Nice for walks with no snow too.  Bear in mind that if you are married coming to Bulgaria will mean you spend a lot of time together, sometimes people who have always worked or been able to get away from each other for a break can find it hard being together 24/7.
Wherever you buy you will probably find your neighbours will adopt you, never mind the language barrier, say hello or wave at them and no doubt someone will arrive with some goodies for you. I have found that most people who have problems have caused them by their attitude to others and would have problems anywhere not just Bulgaria. It also helps if you are a bit handy in the DIY department.
If I can help at all just send me a pm and I'll give you my phone number. Nothing to sell or charge for, just close to Gabrovo.

I may sound a bit negative in my posts, but folks - it all depends on what you compare it to and what is your experience. If you call good healthcare place where you can not even get a heart stress tests - that is up to you... it all depends on what type of services you are used to. And this is in a large city, not a tiny little village that has one healthcare person, which is only with the qualifications of nurse practitioner. The local gipsies are a real issue with the break ins, but not only them.The organized crime in Bulgaria is a huge issue. You leave for a small trip of 3-4 days, come back home, just to find it all robbed!

If you read the recent articles popping here and there on the net about how Brits are leaving, literally abandoning their homes in BG, you will find out that the biggest 2 reasons are the useless police and the bad healthcare. Here is just one of those: … yshti.html

This one:

And I have come across several more. Again, no real estate agent will tell you the real story of what is happening, but again, that is not just for Bulgaria, this is for any country - UK, USA, anywhere you name it. So you need to do your homework. And if someone feel my view is on the negative side, well... this is what my experience has been!

Here is a recent writing about the sidewalks in Sofia: no need to know Bulgarian, just look at the photos, otherwise you google translate to understand what it is about. If the capital's side walks are in such a bad shape, you can imaging what it would be in villages. And fyi I traveled to Bulgaria 6 months ago. I felt that the sidewalks in Sofia are a lot worse than those photos. Walking on Hristo Botev Blvd. there huge holes, if you do not watch where you are stepping, you may end up breaking a leg or who knows what else. I personally think that destinations like Spain or Italy and some parts of France are good value for the infrastructure, for the healthcare price and for the police power.

Negative! You must be near suicidal! I am not in a city but a nice friendly village.
If you mean by 'heart stress test' an ECG I can go to my Doctor today and get one if I need it, in fact I saw him only last month and as I'm just 60 he decided to check me over. ECG, blood test, blood pressure etc. No problem. On the subject of health you also said "BTY, not sure of the reason why a pulmonary care hospital was built in a city that has no patients for it?! I am just scratching my head on this one. Care to explain? A patient with pulmonary disease usually has to have an immediate care when in need. If it is for chronically sick  patients, again, it makes no sense to have a hospital in a region where no need for it in the surrounding."
Surely you realize that there is no point building such a place in a pollution saturated area like Sofia. Where did the Victorians build such places and more modern clinics even now. Where the air is clean obviously, patients come from other places to get well with medical facilities on site.
Crime is a problem everywhere, no worse here than most places and a lot safer in many respects than the UK. Not all gypsies are bad and not everywhere has that many in one place. Most Brits have left because of the worlds financial problems more than anything else. People are leaving Spain and France because it's too expensive to live there and you need highly expensive health care insurance which even then doesn't always cover everything.

ianinbg next time when you go to your doctor ask him/her what a Cardiac Stress test is. It is not an ECG at all. There are 3 ways to be done properly, and 1 way to  be done just for the bill. If in a city you can not get either an Echo stress test, a nuclear stress test or an MRI stress test and you call this great healthcare - again, it all depends on what you compare it to. If where you come from the crime is a regular thing - no problems. Where I've lived is an issue if in the neighborhood 1 break in happens in a whole year!

As far as the pulmonary hospital - again, it sounds like you do not know much about healthcare. As I noted, chronic pulmonary disease is a condition where patients need access to pulmonary care on an emergency basis which must be fast and close to where they are. If a location has no patients to be taken care of, to expect to have either chronically ill or acutely ill pulmonary patients to come is absolutely ridiculous. This topic is not about the common healthcare education and I will stop here with it. If you do not have professional healthcare background we do not have common grounds to have a discussion about it.

However, I am glad that you like living in the village where you are, that you are healthy and no crime around you. Nice to hear this. But please, do not try to convince others that having crime is a normal thing, that having no access to a facility for a cardiac stress test is acceptable for the 21 century, and lets keep up the good tone and not categorize on this forum?!

Hello World expat and Ian, good day to you both. may i mediate for a minute on the subject of healthcare and crime and put things into perspective for you both. I am a young 60 yr old but have had a fair amount of cariac experience having had a quadruple bypass 10 years ago and many many differnt cardiac tests including 2 weeks testing and analysis about a month ago. I think therefore that i know a little about the subject. I think it fair to say that wherever you are in a rural or mountainous area you would need to go to a city to get proper emergency treatment if for example you suffered a heart attack. This applies just as much in England as in BG. I think all this talk of stress test etc is simply a matter of terminology. Here in the UK we do not use those terms, but i know what you are referring to.I think we call it a " treadmill " test....either way they put your heart under stress and increase your heart rate to a certain level to test your heart rythm and ability to pump blood and oxygen. At my age i should be comfortable at 130 + on a treadmill and should make it up to about 160.
Moving onto crime. In the area where i live in the UK there are regular murders, stabbings,robbery,rape etc etc so i think that anywhere in the world today you are going to expectt some crime. It seems to me that the general crime rate in BG is far less than in the UK and in fact i doubt if you have the drugs problem there which fuels crime here in the UK. In conclusion i would not feel any more vulnerable in BG than i do here, quite the contrary! I hope that puts a positive perspective on things.
If you think i am wrong about BG then i am happy to accept what you say as i live in the UK at the moment.

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