From the shores of the Black Sea to the snowy peaks of the Balkans, Bulgaria is a country with stunning natural beauty and a great selection of villas, cottages, farmhouses and apartments, ideal for your dream holiday home.
Bulgaria boasts 11 “Blue Flag” beaches along its 354km of Black Sea coast; 37,500km of hiking paths; and Roman, Greek and Thracian historical attractions. On top of that, there are nine UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation) World Heritage Sites which help to draw the tourists in.
If you are looking to buy a holiday home in Bulgaria, check out our top 5 tips to help you on your way.
1. Location, location, location
This is the age-old advice to home buyers the world over, but often one which is overlooked in the heat of finding that “ideal” property within your budget. No matter how well priced, if your property in Bulgaria is not located in the right place for your particular needs, then your investment is unlikely to be worth it.
But how do you know if a potential holiday home is located in the right place? Firstly, make sure it’s where you want to go on holiday, year after year. Is it the kind of property you have your heart set on and does it have the view you want? Remember, you can change many things about a property, but you can’t change the view. So if a lovely vista of the mountains or sea is your dream, then keep on looking until you find it. Local amenities are another important consideration. Are there enough nearby for your family to enjoy? Most people prefer to be within easy reach of an airport, so purchasing not too far from the international airports of Sofia, Burgas or Varna will mean it’s easier to visit.
Obviously, the best holiday rental potential will be found in and around the popular Black Sea resorts at Sunny Beach, Varna and Burgas, and near the fashionable ski resorts such as Bansko and Vitosha. Bear in mind that if you find a picturesque bargain away from tourist amenities, your property will not have the same rental potential as one in a popular resort.
2. Holiday home, retirement home or rental investment?
Start by being sure of what you want to gain from your Bulgarian property as it’s easy to get swept away by the excitement of viewings which may seem perfect at the time, but actually don’t fit the bill.
Does the property suit your requirements? Whether it’s a rental investment, a holiday home for your personal use or one that you can one day call a “forever home,” make sure you choose the right property for your needs.
Buy-to-let investments must also be bought in the right location, close to local amenities, popular tourist hot spots and easy transport connections. For it to rent well, make sure it is located in a high demand area where you can attract tourists to stay often. They may well be paying off your mortgage as part of your carefully planned investment strategy.
3. Use a reputable estate agent
The process of buying Bulgarian property is different to house-buying in the UK, but a good way to start is to find a reputable and experienced estate agent. Do your research and don’t let anyone rush you into a decision. Estate agents are not licensed or regulated in Bulgaria so it’s a good idea to check they are properly qualified and to find out how long they have worked in the market. You might also ask to speak to satisfied customers of theirs who can give you the reassurance you need.
Many buyers find a UK based, registered estate agent who specialises in Bulgarian property. Make sure, however, that you are not paying more than you would do if you were searching for property on the ground yourself or with a local agent in Bulgaria.
4. Buy low and do your sums
Buying property in Bulgaria is still an attractive option for many investors looking for low buy-in prices and strong returns in the medium to long term. With prices starting at around £36,000 for a one bedroom apartment in the elite Bansco ski and spa resort, Vihren Palace, it’s easy to see that desirable holiday homes are a good bet for both investors and holiday home owners alike.
Although the prices are low, don’t forget to factor in your buying costs which for a £40,000 property in Bulgaria without land will typically amount to just under £3,000. Check with your estate agent or lawyer before you part with any deposits or commissions so that you are not landed with any surprises.
Many agents charge a percentage fee (minimum £300-£500) and a daily viewing fee of £30-£100 is often charged but refunded if you buy a property from them.
Lawyer’s fees normally amount to 1%, depending on what the lawyer is required to do (subject to a minimum of £200-£300). For straightforward transactions such as undertaking searches, drawing up the preliminary and final contracts and registering change of ownership, their services usually fall within this price range. Lawyers will often also liaise with the vendor of the property and arrange for a survey at an extra cost of approximately £200-£300.
Upon completion, you will need to pay a municipal tax of 2% of the purchase price, as well as annual local council taxes of 0.15% and annual rubbish collection charges (normally under £20).
5. Get adequate insurance
Firstly, if you are going on inspection trips to find your dream holiday home in Bulgaria, don’t forget to get travel insurance to cover the costs should you have a medical emergency while you are there. Although the free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) covers emergency treatment, it will not cover you for repatriation (getting you back home after a medical emergency), lost or stolen baggage, cancellation, legal liability and much more. With the right travel insurance in place, you will be reassured to know that Staysure will be there to assist at the end of an emergency helpline available to you 24/7.
These tips are non-advisery and are merely meant as a general guide to avoiding problems when you buy a holiday home in Bulgaria. For professional advice, please consult a lawyer. Read more on on holiday home insurance.