Buying land in Bulgaria is definitely not for the faint-hearted. However, if you can get over the hurdles then it may well be worth its weight in gold in the future.
Remarkably, the price of land is still very low in Bulgaria when compared to the rest of Europe. This is particularly true of plots located in rural areas where agricultural land can be found as low as 2 euro/sq m. At the extreme, prices of land in 2004 were reaching prices in excess of 100 euro/sq m, typically south of Varna in the vicinity of Sunny Beach and Burgas.
Land prices have even increased by 100 per cent in some areas within the space of a year.
It is expected that the price of land in Bulgaria will continue to increase as Bulgaria grows increasingly closer to EU membership in 2007. Who says? Well, organisations that have analysed the price increase of real estate in general - those that have seen the constant rise in prices over the past few years.
You have probably read property investment magazines that highlight the risks of buying anything in Eastern Europe - issues such as political stability, economic factors, the fact that they are still getting used to their independence from communism. But consider this. If you are successfully persuaded not to buy in Bulgaria , who do you think is going to invest there? The writers of these articles (and their friends) perhaps?
Any investment requires the assessment of risk and professional advice on legal issues. Having equipped yourself with some sound legal and financial advice, you are then in the best position to make your own choice. Always question the motives of those that try to put you off. Obviously, sometimes they are merely warning you of the risks, but sometimes there are other motives in play.
Regulated Versus Unregulated Land
As you view plots of land in Bulgaria , you will sometimes find that the agent uses terms such as 'regulated' and 'unregulated' land.
If you are viewing unregulated land, then this typically means that the authorities have not marked that area for development. It does not mean that you cannot build there, but you would need to go through a legal process to convert the land to 'regulated' land. Regulated land, therefore, means that the land has been marked for development (e.g. building).
When viewing land it is important to establish whether the land is regulated or not, as this will determine how easily and how quickly you will be able to build a property on it. Some agents will tell you that they can help you to get the land regulated. However, it is always better to get independent advice on how easy a process this will be. Discuss this point with your solicitor to ensure that the whole legal process has been explained to you and you have been given a clear idea of how long this can take.
You will typically hear claims that regulation can take anywhere between one and six months. But there is really no 'official' length of time by which regulation of land can be obtained, and there is also no guarantee, as such, that unregulated land can be regulated.
The safest option for you would be to purchase regulated land. Ensure that you tie a clause in to your contract (with your solicitor's recommendation) that protects your interests on this point.