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Warnings re: property purchase

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Warnings re: property purchase

Postby newcomer » Sun 11 May 2008 13:58 GMT

Dear All,

You may have heard this all before but had to mention it just in case. Be very careful when buying property in Bulgaria. There are many things to watch out for, here is some food for thought:

Over-pricing by estate agents and people selling direct.
When we first purchased a property here we paid double the actual cost of the property because the agent bumped up the price. As foreigners who don't speak the language and rarely have direct contact with the owners when buying you are a prime target for rip-offs. We didn't find out about the overcharging until later, purely by accident when we were introduced to the previous owner by our neighbours.

Estate agents regularly add 5-15000 euros on top of the selling price knowing that because they are the intermediary neither you or the seller will know the difference. We've noticed this when selling our own property and now that we can speak some bulgarian will always make a point of mentioning the real cost of the property when there is a viewing. Even so if an offer is made by someone out the country we'd never know if it was the real offer or one 5000 euros less. Wherever possible try to arrange face to face negotiations so you both know where you stand.

If you're interested in doing your own legwork and finding properties for sale ask a trusted bulgarian speaking friend to ask questions for you, often the sound of a foreigners voice will double the cost of the property.

Location, location, location...

Many of us Brits crave a big house and open space with the idea of running a B&B or having some animals and growing crops, or maybe renovating and selling on. Be very careful about your choices. It's tempting to be enticed by cheap properties 'ONLY 50km' from this or that town only to find that 50km is actually a long way when you have to drive it every day to drop children at school, go to work or fetch building supplies (and collect/drop off builders). Worse in the winter it can be a nightmare as you're highly unlikely to see a snow plough. You may also find that if you're setting up a B&B guests don't want to be that far out, they'd rather be in the town where all the cafes, restaurants and various other entertainment is to be found. Later more savvy buyers may recognise these drawbacks and when you want to sell because you realise it's not what you want you could be in for a long wait. Some of these things have happened to us or people we know.

Another thought, think about where your property is sited. Good road access is essential in winter. It may be a romantic idea to hole yourself away with your supplies of wood and food but you could get caught out by a sudden heavy downpour or snow and you need to be able to get out in an emergency. Also others may need access to your property for example to empty a septic tank or drop building or wood supplies.

Consider if your property is too islolated. Burglaries of holiday homes are not uncommon, even security systems don't put serious thieves off, they just have people watching for a response to the alarm and alert the others when to run for it. We know an English couple who have been burgled 2 or 3 times, once while they were in the house!

Renovating

Aaaah renovating, turning that shack into the palace of your dreams. Well remember that if it's a total renovation you should allow at least as much money to renovate it as you paid for it. Always negotiate prices and stipulate your requiremants exactly, NEVER EVER assume ANYTHING! Shoddy workmanship and sometimes pure stupidness is the norm, be prepared to go through many many builders before you get what you want. We came here and did a large total renovation, we spent much more money than we expected and had a huge amount of stress, usually because we were dealing with incompetence or because we didn't realise what a mammoth task we had taken on. The market is not as good as it used to be either so don't assume you can renovate and make a killing, especially if you buy a property far from a town. We and others we know are much more wary about renovation projects, it can sometimes be more costly than just buying something already renovated or a new build.

If you buy in an architecturally protected area so to speak bear in mind that you may need permission to do any outside work on your property and may have to wait months for this before you can start work.

Taking on a business opportunity

Buying a property for business purposes sounds like a great idea, but consider carefully the location, you need to be easily accessible and preferably easily seen. We know of English run hostels in the town, out of view that have little or no business. If the building needs renovation see above. Red tape and paperwork can be enormous, sometimes you can wait for more than a year to get the piece of paper that gives you the go ahead to open for example a bar.

Don't be put off by all of this I'm not trying to turn you off Bulgaria but please listen to those that have been there, done that and don't repeat our mistakes. It can be heartbreaking to see people's dreams fall to pieces.
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Postby Kay » Sun 11 May 2008 14:13 GMT

Many thanks for this, I've made it a sticky so it stays near the top. I'd also like to copy this posting and use it as an article on the main site, if you don't mind.
Not Delia - Foodie blog with lots of reviews and recipes.
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