Frequently Asked Questions
I want to sue the developer in Bulgarian court for non-performance of the signed private purchase contract and for late delivery of the apartment to me – what are my chances, how much are the related court fees and taxes and why are they so high? Couldn’t it be covered later by the judgement debtor and not by me at the beginning?
Please note that Bulgaria is still a country with huge burocracy and lot of documentation, where every activitity and preparation of every document costs time and money. All the taxes for civil claims at the courts have been set up at the local Civil Code as a constant ammount - 4%, or 2% (depending of the type of the case) of the material interest. These court taxes are payable in advance by the claimant directly to the bank account of the court and if the claimant wins and where they have requested it, the other party has to reimburse them with these taxes too. The fees usually charged by Bulgarian lawyers for civil representation usually represent a percentage of the material interest; the min and the max of its rate has been set up at the Lawyer's Act & the Tariff, for convenience of all parties. If you win the case the other party will have to reimburse you with the lawyer's fee too, in cases where you have requested it. Please remember that cash values this is why pursuing cash and actual financial refund for you in local courts is serious, important and intelligent work to be done by a practicing Bulgarian attorney at law. This is why professional Bulgarian lawyers know what they charge for - sometimes the legal fees may look high, but usually it relates to countless activities to be done during the case, putting maximum efforts in winning the case and achieving real financial outcome for you. The Bulgarian lawyer pays for the compulsory professional insurance, for practicing office, for many business expenses related to their work, so you should bear and consider very carefully the eventual issues related with any suspicious offers for small legal fees for civil representation that could be offered to you by competitors. You can always ask us for free about quotation of the work which you need to be done.
Can I recover debt and achieve refund of my investment via claim at the local courts or through out-of-court procedures?
Yes recovering your investment is legally possible as long as the debtor has available assets, but unfortunately not in 100% of the cases. Most of our clients appeared to have made in the past three simple mistakes: - some have paid without signing of contract and taking legal advise - others tried to make alternations/choose different property without reading and understanding the legal jargon /and the foreign language/ - third group (mainly real estate agents and commissioners) have entered into contractual obligations with overseas and Bulgarian agents, selling one real estate to unknown number of buyers and transferring amounts into bank accounts, held outside the UK, Bulgaria and even the EU!
We highly assess your and our time and therefore we ask all prospective creditors/clients to take into account the following:
1. If possible, do not take any initial steps without been properly advised by our Bulgarian lawyers. Contact us for a brief advice on your situation.
2. If you intend to sell or buy a real estate that is situated in Bulgaria, give us a call immediately.
3. Debt collection is serious and complicated matter; costly in monetary terms and in time. The longer you wait for your money the less chance of recovery you have.
4. Tracing of debtors; obtaining of Judgement and Enforcement Order may take half a year or so.
5. The summoning may cause you a long - term mental disease. For instance, the local English or Bulgarian Court is under statutory obligation to send the summons via its state Ministry of Justice/Foreign Office. Imagine how many times invitations, evidence, letters will be left in the hands of bureaucrats from these two countries and how easier is an alternative solution - finding of another buyer who can pay the outstanding amount and acquire the title deed in his name.
6. 95 % of debt collection in Bulgaria requires Issuing of Court Proceedings (we mean you can't skip this step in most cases), which usually go through all the stages and lead to another litigation "Enforcement Proceedings" - for more information click here.
7. International Property Business is not a place for "war of principles" - once your debt has been secured on the debtor's property or other available asset they own, then you should consider how to use your refunded money forward so you don't lose it again in dodgy deals.
Has the real estate market in Bulgaria passed over the crisis so I could sell my Bulgarian property, without losing profit? Am I obliged to pay Capital Gains?
You need to know one certain thing about the Bulgarian property market: completed and habitable apartments worth their price and being sold quite well, mostly towards Russian buyers who pay cash, athough we need to admit that there are areas where the real estates are being sold on levels of prices times lower than the prices of properties 3-4 years ago. Yes you can make a profit from eventual re-sale, especially if you have bough in British Pounds 3-5 years ago but are now selling in Euro - however your profit greatly depends on the speed with which you wish to perform the deal, and whether you are being pressed by bad financial circumstances back home. We can analyze the local property market and real estate prices in the area where your property has been situated, and we can propose to you an option for sale, respectively a price for your Bulgarian real estate for which you can expect fast re-sale. Of course you are not obliged to follow our advices on the matter, but to request a sale price which has been solely designated by you. You need to ensure that what the buyer is paying, is actally what you have asked for, and not more, where eventual difference in price could be achieved without your knowledge, and resp. withdrawn by intermediaries who represent you and to whom you have given letter of authorization to open and operate with bank accounts of yours. More information about the Real etate market is available on our specific webiste.
When I sign a power of authorization, allowing people who are not lawyers to open bank accounts in Bulgaria in my name and to operate with it, and to sell the property on my behalf & sign the new Deeds, are they actually obliged and contracted to me?
Not at all. The letter of authorization does not creates any obligations for the authorized proxy, but only give them rights to perform the mentioned legal activities on behalf of the authorizer, and what is worse – to validly oblige the authorizer with their signature on any chosen action among the properly give ones. In simple words – when you give a letter of authorization in Buglaria for dealing with bank accounts and properties in your name, you better authorize a Bulgarian lawyer, because they have their engage letters and also professional insurance towards clients – which insurance other parties may not have.
Do I have to pay up in front any taxes for the sale of my property? How do I know if my sales/legal representative is charging me too much for selling it?
Usually the re-sale of a real estate in Bulgaria requires a certain standard pack of actual documents to be obtained at the local Authorities where the property is situated, which documents then to be presented to the notary public who will witness the sale. Obtaining of these documents requires taxes and travel expenses. So if you are going to pay these in advance, then you better hire a Bulgarian lawyer who will be actually contracted and obliged to you via their power of attorney, before you transfer this money. In addition, we have detailed that Capital Gains is not due where physical individuals sell only one property per year. But if you own a local company which sells the property, then you need to get a legal advice about the possible legal instruments to reduce your tax bill - please contact our Bulgarian lawyers before you enter in any preliminary or final agreements with real estate agents and buyers, and they will advise you accordingly. Instead of this, you will definitely have to pay the needed administrative taxes at the local Authorities for obtaining the documents that will legally allow you to actually transfer the property before local notary public – scheme and tax valuation of the real estate, certificate for burdens, etc. More information and guidance to our services can be found on our section Property selling
Why it is better to use a Bulgarian lawyer when re-selling my property situated in Bulgaria, instead of dealing with everything on my own or via my sales representative?
Bulgarian lawyers have got something very important: a professional insurance towards clients. Sometimes Bulgarian properties are advertised and sold to financially capable Russian buyers for prices higher than the one requested by the seller without their knowledge or consent, so a hired Bulgarian lawyer with ensure on your behalf that the price, paid by the buyer, is actually what you will get, and not less. Instead of securing the actual receiving of the agreed sale price and then transfering it in full towards your designated home bank account, there are several other things which could go wrong, starting with the fact that there could be problems with the documents not cleared at the time of the initial purchase in your name, also if you are foreign individual or corporate body, you will face troubles in your own country, or ending with the possibility that sometimes the local burocracy may not recognize the property sale (for example - to refuse to register the sale at the Land Agency due to defects of the deal or not to un-register the property from the seller's file at the Tax Authority). The simple process of obtaining the papers for the sale actually is not simple at all. If you decide to proceed on your own, you will be expected to spend weeks in Bulgaria, applying for documents, paying taxes and waiting one week to receive the obtained documents, traveling and possibility of missing deadlines, not to mention the nightmare of striking off a company afterwards (if you have one). Another "piece of work" may arise if your buyer pays by the means of a bank loan/mortgage. This is why it is much better to spend 500 Sterling on lawyer’s fees and to receive the sale price in your account, than to organize flights to Bulgaria and to deal with all parties and the local authorities at once, for a month term or so. We have detailed the whole standard sale procedure on our section Property selling.
What do I do with my empty and non-active Bulgarian company once I have sold the property already, can I just leave it like this and forget about it?
Nope. In most cases the shareholders of a local corpoate body are also the managers/directors of the company, who are fully obliged to the local authorities for any wrongful activities of the company. In simple words this means that if you own a company, most likely you will be liable as being its manager, towards the governement for taxes and fines cahrged to the company. The best thing you can do, is to liquidate the empty Bulgarian corporate body. Keeping it existing, even non-active, only will bring more expenses to you, as well in the future the taxes for liquidation of local companies for sure won’t drop, but only will rise. We can assist you and to liquidate on your behalf the company which is not needed any longer. Visit our section Corporate matters for more information and guidance.
I’m currently selling my property in Bulgaria and there is a serious and concrete buyer, but my sales representative has advised me a lower price should be put in the Title Deed. Is this a usual practice?
Putting a lower price in the Title Deed is illegal activity and unfortunately sometimes used by few intermediaries as an instrument for misleading the buyer and the seller what price has been actually transferred between the bank accounts of the buyer and the seller by their authorized proxies) resp. for keeping serious part of it without the knowledge of the seller and the buyer. This is why if you are selling your property, it is advisable to hire a Bulgarian lawyer who has a professional insurance towards clients and who is actually contracted/obliged legally to you and who can confirm with the buyers that the actual price you want for your property, has been placed to the buyer but not a higher price, which later to be hidden from you via listing a smaller sum in the new Title Deed and resp. to be withdrawn without your knowledge from your bank account, which has initially been opened for the sale procedure with the letter of authorization given by you to third parties. This is why you should contact a trusted Bulgarian lawyer at the start of the sale process in order to control the whole procedure and to protect your financial interests together with the legal ones, via ensuring that the actual sale price will be listed in the new Title Deed. Completed new apartments in the holiday resorts worth its price are not being sold cheap towards the rich Russian buyers who usually pay cash in straight purchases, so you should secure your investment on the matter. Contact us for more information and quote
How long usually it takes to re-sell my Bulgarian real estate? Why do I better choose a Bulgarian lawyer to perform it on my behalf?
Bulgarian lawyers have got a professional insurance towards clients, and via their power of attorney are actually contracted/obliged legally to their clients. So when you appoint a Bulgarian lawyer to act in your behalf, usually it can take only a month in straight sales (without preliminary contracts, mortgages or other complications). This is related only to the slow burocracy in Bulgaria and respectively the slow issuing of the needed documents related to the property which has to be obtained by the property seller or their legal representative via power of attorney; there could be unpaid council taxes, etc. You need to know that letter of authorization is not a contract and is not signed by the person who receives rights; giving a letter of authorization to intermediaries does not obliges them to you, but only the opposite: gives them rights to oblige you in full with their signatures, sometimes without you been notified about certain activities; this is why as Bulgarian solicitors we can help you with legal advice, actual obtaining on your behalf of all the required documentation, without any need for you to visit Bulgaria, and ensure that you will sell your Bulgarian real estate quickly and following the requirements by the local Laws. Most important - we will ensure that you will receive the agreed sale price directly at your designated home bank account and we will prevent you from being involved in any fraudulent acts or cheats. On our section Sale of real estates we have detailed the whole procedure as well our legal services related. Do I need to make any other checks? Almost all real estate agencies offer real estate checks in return of the fees they charge you. The important point is that Bulgarian lawyers have per the Law their professional insurance towards clients and this, together with the service letter/lawyer’s contract is what makes Bulgarian lawyers obliged and responsible to clients, once they have got their power of attorney by the client. It matters who will sign personally to you, we mean oblige in writing to you that the deal will bring no complications to you and that you will not lose your investment – in other words, who will deal with your personal bank accounts to be opened for the sale in Bulgaria, and who will receive the sale price on your behalf, respectively will operate with your accounts and ensure that what has been received in your account is actually the sale price pursued by you and nothing less. We all know that commission fee has been strongly pursued, but actually there are no clauses obliging the proxy to you for any eventual torts or damages from eventual dodgy deal with the other party, or to grant that you will actually receive any reservation deposit obtained in order to secure your investment if the buyer suddenly pulls out (mostly due to being offered later a cheaper property). The other warning is that nobody investigates the agencies/sellers you are dealing with and whether you may rely on them (i.e. to expect to receive from them any obtained deposit from buyers). If you are unsure how to proceed in such scenario, please contact us for more guidance and information.
How do I make/receive the payments for my property and my company? Can I agree for cash payments not directly in my own bank account/in the account of my company?
Starting 2011, every payment for property deal in Bulgaria, which is at amount higher than 10 000 levs (little more than 5000 Euro) following the reuirements of the Law, has to be performed only via bank transfer in Buglarian banks, and then to be presented to the local notary public on signing the Title Deed. This payment can be easily proved via signed by the bank payment order. In addition to the above we advise: as you will have to sign a letter of authorization to somebody to perform the whole procedure and to receive the sale price on your behalf, let this somebody be a lawyer and not anybody else. Bulgarian lawyers have per the Law a professional insurance towards clients (something which real estate agent has not) and via the letter of servces/lawyer’s contract they are really responsible to clients. If you are selling your Bulgarian real estate, then always request the collected deposit and be careful who you authorize in writing to open bank accounts on your name and to receive the sale price in it – the best option is to hire a Bulgarian lawyer who will be actually obliged to protect your interests as a seller. If you are about to buy a Bulgarian real estate, always make payments for the property only and only directly to the seller who will sign personally the Title Deed - and please do not agree to pay the purchase price towards foreign property agents, third parties, other companies, etc.
Breach of contract: How do I protect myself and my hardly earned investment?
Breach of contract is always deleterious for your rights. In Bulgaria there is one common legal protection against breach of contract - serving notary invitation to the guilty party in order to prove their fault in writing, and pursuing court case – usually for refund, for compensation about late delivery or pusuing ownership in court. But realizing that sometimes you may be in breach, please try to delay with 24 hours /or until the next working day/ any promises, payments, threats or doing anything which may tie the knot. Contact us and leave the rest to us to handle with and to protect your invesment.
I've got preliminary contract signed with local developer, but they are not following it any longer and obviously failed to complete the whole complex/project, I haven’t got yet a Title Deed and the bank wants to sell everything - what can I do now in order to protect my investment?
Since one one hand obviously you have no legal relations with the banks-creditors of the developer, and on the other hand the signed preliminary contract does not give you any Title rights, the most important thing is to get the signed private purchase contract examined asap by a Bulgarian lawyer in order to establish what is the current situation, if you are stll the right/non-breaching party, respectively if you are entitled to claim the liability of the local developer. This will open the gates for you to seek protection of your investment, respectively will allow us to start out-of-court settlement of your relations with the debtor and later where needed - entering civil court claims for refund of your investment and penalties for non-performance, and actual performance of law disputes in local Bulgarian court. Remember that in Buglaria which is a still developing country, the legal protection in cases of non-performance of contracts is via the local courts and here there are no out-of-court procedures to push the developer to perform their obligations or obtain penalties/refund. For the performance of any futher legal actions you will need to get informed in advance about the available assets of the other party - such information will clear your (and ours) view on the chances to secure your investment and respectively to obtain refund via court procedures at the local courts and execution procedures via the local execution judges (the Bulgarian bailiffs). We know very well how to find out and to advise you if there are chances to get your money back and we always offer to our clients initially to investigate the avaialble legal assets of local developers before entering court cases. Please refer to our section Law suits for more information and guidance.
I have paid the total purchase price for the apartment to the developer, but now they are saying they can't complete and they are offering me a swap into another non-completed property of theirs - should I accept it?
This option to respond to the worldwide crisis, always looks like proper security of property investment made by a buyer, but in many cases related to Bulgarian complexes, such "offer" has been used by developers who want to abandon a development due to non-possibility for it ever to be completed. We need to conclude that the most of the buyers who have been offered "swapping" into another complex against their last installment, have not taken proper legal advice prior to signing their initial contract, respectively a professional Bulgarian lawyer to advise them at the beginning if the purchase is risky one. Let's be clear - Bulgaria is small country and for experienced Bulgarian solicitor it is visible if a purchase is straight or dodgy one. In all cases such offer for transfer into another purchase needs to be examined and folloiwng it, new contract to be designated and signed between the parties in order to settle the previous relations between parties and to protect the buyer's interests related to the new purchase - just like it all has gone wrong with the initial purchase and the developer has got your money, it always can go wrong with the swapping. We need to avoid this. Contact us for more information.
How long it takes to buy a property in Bulgaria? Can I buy it online on intenet auction like ebay, where to pay via credit card and receive the Title automatically?
Please, no rush at all. Purchasing a Bulgarian real estate takes time, even in straight sales. Just because the property transfer is related with a lot of documentation; moreover it requires a personal presence or authorizing a local Bulgarian lawyer to represnet you via power of attorney. Been promised to buy your dream house or holiday apartment in 2 - 3 weeks very often means somebody wants to get your money asap in relation to hidden difference in the advertised price and the actual price asked by the seller themselves, or just to get rid of a problematic property cause they have not finished their own job and not all the necessary checks have been carried out to enure straight property purchase. Bear in mind that sellers/intermediaries have interest to sell their product/get a commission fee as soon as possible and quick negotiations or signing of contract may metamorphose you into claimant or appealant instead of proper owner. Land Registry Checks, Court Checks and Companies Checks do not always guarantee clear Title Deed, but without all these lgal ivestigations the risks for your investment are much higher. Also, it is not technically possible to have a confirmation for lack of problems, lack of burdens or mortgages, or non-regulated borders for a property being sold on online auctions or internet stores. Please refer to our related article here. No matter whether you invest all your savings or this is just an adventure, do not rush the things. Buying property in such young EU member like the still developing Bulgaria takes a bit longer, although since 2012 it is not required any longer for EU residents to set-up a local Bulgarian company in order to purchase regulated plot; it requires adequate attention to any detail and if done well, brings you profits.
I’m buying Buglarian real estate and I negotiate directly with the property owners. Do I still need an independent legal advice and conveyance service by Buglarian lawyer?
Yes, if you wish to be safe about your money and interests. Fax us/email us their proposals and contracts before taking further steps. Owners, just like property agents who want to receive their commission as soon as possible, this is why they will promise you everything. Your only advantage is the fact that you are holding the money and you can order how long the process to take - please do not accept for real soap bubbles that "there are 3 other buyers waiting for this property". The sooner they try to perform the deal without giving you option to get legal advice by a Bulgarian property lawyer, the more certain it is that something may be wrong with this deal. And once you've signed the Title Deed and have passed the money - well, then your chances to secure your investment are rather than zero. Please refer to our section Property buying for more guidance and information.
Do I need to establish a company in Bulgaria for buying a plot of regulated land within a village or a city? Does it matter if I am EU or non-EU resident if I want to use the local company for residential permit?
This depends on three things: what kind of property you are trying to buy, your residentship and your future plans. Since 2012, establishing of a local corporate body is not required for EU residents who wish to buy only regulated plots in Bulgaria. Many intermediaries/sales agents and sellers deliberately mislead the foreign buyers with explanations that when you buy flat/studio you need to go through registration of a local company. Do not trust such statements - you will buy the right to use and the right to build someone else's property!
Consequences of such transfer are worse than you expect:
- the owner of the plot is legally entitled to charge rent for the use of his/her land
- if the building company gets acquired or declared in bankruptcy, its creditors/banks may start major building works around the whole holiday complex and you cannot stand a legal action
- you are limited to sell your property only to EU citizens (since no person, entitled to buy the land will accept to pay the same amount for one limited right).
Setting an empty and non-working company won’t help you to obtain residential status in the country. Many Russian buyers are being misled that they need to set up an empty and non-working local company in order to apply easier for visa D in Bulgaria. This is not true. If you are non EU-resident, then a brand new and non-working local company, which owns only the real estate and has no trading activities, does not give you any advantage for applying for a residential permit.
Another reason for this misleading is that intermediaries/developers, while competing with other agencies always prefer to go through the transfer process ASAP as they do with Bulgarian clients. Establishment of a company varies in terms in each county, depending on how busy is the local branch of the Companies House and sometimes few real estate agencies are risking losing prospective client because of delayed company registration. Matters are much worse when buying private detached house. For example, you cannot make any major building works, get phone line or even apply for a court order in case of trespassing. And finally, if you buy the real estate only in order to sell it in a couple of months, just consider how dishonestly this is to the new buyer (who usually comes from your own country).
Nore information, guidance and quaotation you may find our our section – Our services
Which forms of companies and corporate bodies are permitted under Bulgarian Law? Who can advises me which form is the most appropriate for my investment in Bulgaria?
- Sole proprietorship /self employed
- Joint Stock Company
- Limited Liability Company (could be of sole or mutual ownership)
- Limited Partnership
- Unlimited Partnership
- Unlimited partnership with shares
- A few variations of public limited company
Are there any specific forms, designated for foreign investors?
No, but you should consider what are your real plans when establishing company in Bulgaria. Most popular and easiest type is company of limited liability, with sole or mutual shareholding. Bear that since 2012, establishing of a local corporate body is not required for EU residents who wish to buy only regulated plots in Bulgaria (usually together with a house on the plot).
What are the consequences of establishing a company in Bulgaria?
All along with the good sides, you should be prepared for some paperwork to be done permanently - even if your brand newly registered company is not performing business and does not have any business accounts. Things do not differ a lot from setting up a company in your home country. This involves annual tax calculation, submitting of the annual zero tax returns even for non-working Bulgarian companies who do not have business accounts, registering with local authorities etc. On the other hand, your company entitles you to lease your property to locals; having all your expenses recognised by the Inland Revenue (and very often not paying any taxes at all) and eases the granting of your visas or permanent residence. Please refer to our section Our services for more guidance and information.
How much it may cost me to establish a company in Bulgaria – i.e. the legal fees and registration taxes?
Most real estate agencies offer setting up of Ltd Co only and their fees vary between 300 Euro and 500 Euro. Be careful whether the price includes registration with the Tax Authorities, local registered address and performance of the annual zero tax return - in case when you buy off - plan, who will receive your correspondence and at which address. We offer registration of Ltd Co for £290 including VAT. Contact us for more information and guidance.
Do we need a visa "C" or "D" for Bulgaria and then for traveling within the EU?
If you are non-EU citizen and if your country does not have mutual agreement with Buglaria for removal of the visas, then yes, you do. You may spend 30 days in Bulgaria as a tourist; however most buyers intend to settle or to do serious business. When buying their Bulgarian real estate, retired Russians prefer to obtain long-term resident certificate so they can visit Bulgaria (and the EU) from time to time. We have had many clients misled deliberately on the above matter by dodgy competitors and non professionals. Of course, you can always leave Bulgaria for one day and come back for another 30 days (you can do it only once in six months) but imagine how inconvenient is to make unpredicted journeys in the middle of the seasons to Serbia or Macedonia for example. Any overstay leads to serious fines by the local Authorities and you may end up paying your property twice. We encourage our clients who are obliged to apply for visa when visiting Bulgaria, to apply for Long-term visa (D). Setting an empty and non-working local corporate body won’t help you to obtain residential permit in Bulgaria. Many overseas property buyers have being misled by sellers or intermediaries that they need to set up an empty and non-trading Bulgarian corporate body in order to apply easier for visa (D) in Bulgaria. This is not true. A non-working company, which owns only the real estate, does not give you any advantage for applying for a residential permit. For more information, visit our section Immigration Laws and contact us for more information and guidance.