How to find and work with a Bulgarian real estate agent

Maria Plamenova,  Wednesday, 13 November 2013


This article is part of a series of 8 articles about buying property in Bulgaria. The other articles in the series cover the following topics:

The work of the real estate agents in Bulgaria is not very well determined by the law, there are no strict requirements or education one needs in order to become a real estate agent, so the foreigners should choose their broker very carefully. You are not obliged to work with only one real estate agent or hire anyone at all but having a good broker can save you time, money and problems. There are a few important things that the foreigners who want to buy property in Bulgaria should know about the real estate agents in the country and how they work.

Before coming to Bulgaria it is advisable for the buyer to look at the website ads for properties. There is a trick the Bulgarian real estate agents use in this case. They offer an excellent property at a very competitive price (which may even not be real). This automatically makes you call them asking about your dream house with a view which is 20-30% cheaper than the others on the market. They tell you that this particular property is already sold but there are many others like it so if you could just give them a phone number, they will call. And then they really start calling. A lot. Offering properties that do not suit you requirements, your budget or both. This can be very inconvenient especially for a foreigner.

What can you do then in order to find the best Bulgarian real estate agent that can be very helpful and productive. Look at it as a job interview. You need to hire a broker so get to meet at least 4-5 real estate agents. Preferably at their offices. It is time consuming but when you choose the right one, you will see that it was worth it. The reason why you should insist on meeting the real estate agents at their offices is that it will give you quite a good idea how serious the agency is and how it works with costumers. Even if you find the office satisfying and impressive enough, don’t forget to ask for the real estate agent’s certificate.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions (remember it is a job interview and you are the employer). For how long have you worked in the real estate field? How many real estate deals did you make last year? How long does it take to find the right property? How do you communicate with the buyer during the search process? Tell me more about your last three deals? These are all questions that you need to ask and get a satisfying answer.

It is also very important to insist that the real estate agent will represent only you as a buyer and not the seller at the same time. There are many cases like this in Bulgaria, and it is quite obvious why this is not a good solution – the real estate agent will get a commission both from you and the seller and it is not very clear how they will protect both interests during the deal.

Another important question is about the agent’s commission. Before the bursting of the real estate bubble in Bulgaria in 2008 the commission varied but today it is unreasonable to pay more than 3% of the property’s market value to the real estate agent. Don’t forget that if the seller is working with a broker they will also pay a commission (which is likely to affect the price of the property). The commission is paid only when there is a deal so you should not accept any fees for just showing you a real estate.

When you choose a real estate agent to represent you and negotiate all the terms of this representation, a contract between you and the broker must be signed. This is a contract for representation stating that the real estate agent is committed to find a property according to the buyer’s requirements and criteria. After the real estate agent fulfills that obligation, the buyer has to pay a commission in the specified amount. From that moment on the broker becomes your representative and should look after your interests as a buyer.

Finding the right real estate agent can be hard and long process but when you finally manage to do it, it will help a lot. The experienced broker will lead you through the process and will not only find the most appropriate offers on the market for you, but can also help with the procedures. Checking if everything with the documents of the property is fine is really important and if you haven’t bought a real estate in Bulgaria before, the broker can lead you through the process. And don’t forget, the commission is paid only after the deal.

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