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Bulgarian experts advise on property pitfalls

14th August 2008 Print
Leeds law firm John Howe & Co is using its experience dealing with the Bulgarian property market to advise prospective buyers on potential pitfalls.

John Howe & Co, based in Leeds, is one of only two law firms recognised by the Law Society for the purchase and sale of property in Bulgaria.

The firm began its connection with Bulgaria in 2004, assisting 10 clients to complete the complicated system of purchase in Bulgaria.

Philip Howell, partner at John Howe & Co said: “As a firm, John Howe & Co have gained considerable expertise in the Bulgarian property market and handled a number of acquisitions, all the time building up valuable contacts with Bulgarian lawyers and property developers.

“However, as with any overseas property transaction there are a number of issues that our clients have encountered during their dealings and these experiences can hopefully help other people avoid the same problems.”

Philip continued: “A huge number of developers are selling property in Bulgaria off-plan, some promising fantastic deals with high specification property. Of course, a lot of these organisations are completely above board and deliver on their promises but every time you buy property this way you do take certain risks.

“There is no guarantee as to the finished quality of the property you are buying. We have come across occasions where the promised facilities within a development have not materialised, clients have bought off-plan and planning permission has not been sought or granted for the development, in one instance the property was built the wrong way round and in another there was a 10 per cent deviation in the size of a property.”

The firm also has encountered a situation where over 6 million euros had been paid over in deposits to a developer but planning permission had not been granted and the ownership of the land was not even certain.

Philip said: “Bulgaria is a good place to buy property as it is popular both as a summer destination and for a winter skiing holiday. Property here should not been seen as a get rich quick, short-term investment however there is potential for value growth following the country's accession to the European Union.

“We are certainly not saying don’t consider buying property in Bulgaria. What we are saying is be very careful and don’t rush into what may appear to be a great deal, there are unscrupulous people out there. Take time and take professional advice and that dream home shouldn’t become a nightmare.”

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