Diligence needed to avoid being ‘ripped off’

With various countries beginning crackdowns on illegally constructed property warnings are being issued to property investors to check before buying.

Bulgaria is the latest country to issue demolition orders. The target for the Directorate for National Construction Supervision (DNCS) batch of 193 demolition orders for illegally constructed property across its coastline are currently food outlets which violate the Bulgarian Black Sea Coastline Act.

But there are concerns that residential properties could face the demolition ball particularly if they're found to be in designated green areas formed to protect native wildlife. This raises the importance of due diligence before buying off-plan property in Bulgaria, or indeed any property market across the globe.

Research shows that many buyers are put off buying abroad for fear of being 'ripped off' and unfortunately there are a minority of estate agents and developers who fail to deliver on their promises. Tales of unlicensed building are always making the headlines.

Now the best organisations are introducing policies to make sure customers have peace of mind. 'We turn down many a lucrative investment opportunity when developers cannot conform to our strict criteria. We are then shocked to see these same opportunities being touted by other agents to unsuspecting customers. Buyers really should keep their eyes open and make sure they're asking all the right questions,' said Ian Fisher, Managing Director of Dream Homes WorldWide.

The company has implemented a strict 'Securinvest' policy. 'As a company we ensure that all documentation, licenses, bank guarantees and escrow facilities are in place before releasing developments to the buying public,' added Fisher.

The Federation of Overseas Property Developers, Agents and Consultants has a list of lawyers who specialise in buying abroad as does the Law Society. They advise that in some countries lawyers act for buyer and the seller, so independent advice is important.

They also advise talking to a British lawyer before anything, is signed as it is often not possible to pull out of an agreed offer as in England and Wales.