Bulgaria: Real Estate Purchase, Procedures, Tips and Fees

Bulgaria: Real Estate Purchase, Procedures, Tips and Fees

More and more buyers from the UK, Russia and Europe seem to prefer Bulgaria as a destination for buying property. The competitive prices and the variety of holiday and relocation real estate are the major reasons for that. The real estate purchase process goes through a number of phases and involves property laws specific to the country. Having a trusted advisor to help protect your rights and lead you through the legal procedures for buying property in Bulgaria is essential.

‘Danailova, Todorov & Partners’ offers expert legal advice to foreigners who want to buy real estate in Bulgaria. Our specialists know the ins and outs of the conveyancing process, and the relevant laws, taxes and fees. 

If you need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our legal experts, consistently ranked among the top in the country for Real Estate and Construction by Legal 500, will be glad to be of service.

Can foreigners buy real estate in Bulgaria?

As of 2012 all citizens of the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA) can purchase property and land in the Republic of Bulgaria (including agricultural land).

Under Bulgarian law, non-EU and non-EEA residents can purchase buildings only and not land. Yet, foreigners who would like to buy property including a plot of land (a rural house with a garden, for example) can do this by registering a Bulgarian company. The process is simplified and inexpensive and can be easily carried out through power of attorney by your trusted legal advisors.

Do you need legal advice and assistance? Contact our experienced lawyers.


The Bulgarian real estate market

The property market in Bulgaria has been growing in the last two decades. The rapid development of the sector has attracted significant foreign investments, welcomed and supported by the government. Legal changes have been introduced to make the property buying process more straightforward.

A number of factors make Bulgaria an excellent real estate purchase destination.

  • Location Just a few hours away for EU, Russian and Middle East citizens, Bulgaria offers newly built Black Sea coast holiday homes (including the famous Sunny beach resort). The Balkan country also boasts excellent mountain and ski resorts with beautiful views. Foreigners are attracted by golf courses, healing spa resorts and a quiet countryside for those seeking relocation.
  • Well developed major cities: Foreigners choosing to relocate purchase homes in residential buildings or newly built  residential complexes located in the capital Sofia. Fully furnished studios and gated complexes are also popular in major cities like Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Veliko Tarnovo, Varna and Burgas.
  • Good infrastructure: This includes four major airports, two seaports, and highways connecting the city of Sofia to secondary cities.
  • Competitive property prices, affordable conveyancing and notary fees, low taxes on properties.
  • Established legal procedures for buying real estate in Bulgaria. These include a property appraisal, a conveyancing search, a preliminary sale contract, signing a notary (title) deed, registration, etc.

How to buy a house in Bulgaria: the property purchase process

Foreigners typically need the assistance of real estate agents to choose and buy property in Bulgaria. It is highly recommended to also find a competent independent legal adviser. Prospective buyers should discuss in detail the reason for purchasing the property (for residence or as an investment) and the whole purchase process. Due diligence and paperwork are critical in any property deal.

The real estate purchase process usually starts with a search of the properties for sale (mostly online). A number of Bulgarian real estate agencies offer their services in English, including websites providing accurate information - texts, video clips and 360° virtual tours.

After a viewing, once the buyer has chosen a desired property, they are required to pay a deposit to reserve the real estate and it is then taken off the market. The deposit is usually a percentage of the property sale price.

A preliminary sale contract is signed outlining all basic conditions for the property purchase (buyer and seller rights and obligations, payment method, property transfer). This should be drawn up by a professional well-versed in local property laws and preferably familiar with the local real estate market. 

A notary deed (similar to the Title deed in the UK) is drawn up with a local notary. This is the legal document certifying the ownership of the real estate. 

The notary certifies the Notary deed and registers it with the Bulgarian Registry Agency.

Note that if the buyer of the property is a legal person, a registration for BULSTAT is required as well as registration in the tax office. This is usually done by the buyer’s lawyer within a week after the purchase of the property.

Some real estate agencies may offer buyers a preliminary contract. However these follow a basic template and are not recommended. What is more, real estate agents work on commission (percentage of property price) and are motivated to make the sale as quickly as possible and at the highest price possible.

A consultation with a trusted independent legal adviser could protect your rights and interests in a preliminary sale contract. Do not hesitate to contact us, we would gladly help you with the process and documentation required for the purchase of real estate in Bulgaria.

Tips when buying Bulgarian property

  • Property for sale in Bulgaria is valued by square meters and not rooms (like the UK). This means that a three-bedroom apartment may turn out to be rather small.
  • Note that the total square meters may also include common parts. These are not part of the apartment living area but are still included in the price.
  • Sometimes the advertised prices are higher than the property value. So during dealing buyers may be able to negotiate a 5% - 10% lower price.

How much does it cost to buy real estate in Bulgaria: fees and taxes

During the property purchase process, the following taxes and fees apply, usually as a percentage of the property value:

  • Notary fee - about 0.1% to 1.5%
  • Transfer tax - about 0.1% to 3%
  • Registration fees - 0.1%
  • Real estate agent’s fee - 2.5% to 3%

Thus, total transaction costs vary between 5% and 10% of the property value, covering realtor’s, lawyer’s, notary fees, etc. These are paid by the buyer, only the agent’s fee is split with the seller.

Property sellers should know that capital gains tax in Bulgaria is 15%. It is levied on the difference between the property sale price and its cost of acquisition (per notary deed).

Do you need legal advice and assistance? Contact our experienced lawyers.


You’ve decided to buy property in Bulgaria: How we can help

With their in-depth experience and high-profile work in Real Estate, our legal experts can:

  1. Verify property history and ownership.
  2. Check encumbrances with the Property Registry.
  3. Draw up the Preliminary sales contract.
  4. Open an escrow account for the property purchase (bank transfer).
  5. Draw up the Notary deed (Title deed)
  6. Register the Notary deed with the Registry Agency.
  7. File for tax purposes with the Municipality.

Conducting a thorough search (Due diligence) of the property is fundamental to the success of the purchase deal. Information is provided by local authorities and registers. The goal of this search is to establish if the seller is the actual owner of the property. It can also reveal if there are any restrictions on the use of the property.

The Bulgarian Land Registry Agency offers information on Bulgarian properties publicly via the Integrated Information System for Cadastre and Property Registration (IKAR).

Unfortunately the filing process of most institutions includes paperwork available only in Bulgarian. A local lawyer familiar with procedures and registers can assist with these checks. What is more, done locally and electronically, the applicable fees are lower. 

The Preliminary sales contract is a crucial stage in the property purchase process in Bulgaria and must be prepared by a competent expert. It gives time to both the buyer and the seller, for conducting the necessary due diligence and gathering all necessary papers respectively. 

Opening an escrow account with an escrow agreement is recommended in any transfer of a valuable asset, especially with real estate. Essentially, an independent bank account is opened for the bank transfer of the property price. The money is kept there by a third party until all contractual terms have been met. 

The right of ownership is established at the second stage of the purchase of real estate in front of a notary in the form of a Notary deed.

The Notary deed is registered with the Property Register at the Registry Agency to establish the new ownership.

All the hassle of buying real estate in a foreign country may be minimized through granting power of attorney to your lawyer. Your legal adviser can represent you before national agencies and sign the contract before the notary public.

We can assist with initial consultation, especially in the case of buying property in Bulgaria for investment purposes. Our lawyers also represent buyers in large infrastructure projects.

For the full range of our real estate services, read here.

Danailova, Todorov and Partners law firm has extensive experience in the sales of properties. Our law firm provides its clients with comprehensive legal advice and handles the whole life cycle of the transactions of properties. Contact us if you are buying property in Bulgaria.

Danailova, Todorov and Partners is also a regional contributor to the Doing Business survey published annually by IFC and the World Bank.


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g.k. Gotse Delchev, ul. "Slavovitsa" , block 24Е, office 2, 1404 Sofia, Bulgaria

Western Industrial Zone, 2 Neptun Str.,
9000 Varna, Bulgaria

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