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Cash purchases for property to be banned in Bulgaria

An amendment to the country’s Notary Act put forward by the Justice Ministry is set to be approved by Parliament before the end of the year.

The aim is to reduce real estate fraud and money laundering, an official said.

The change was first discussed a year ago as part of a wider plan to reduce corruption and crime as well as ensuring that all fees and taxes owed to the state are paid.

It will mean the creation of a State Depositary Bank which would serve as a guarantee for all payments in the form of the state acting as custodian for deposits.

It will not have the functions of a commercial bank, hence it will not appear as their competitor, according to the draft bill.

It will not charge interest but will levy a certain fee on every deal.
The draft has been modelled on the system in France.

The idea is that the bank will be used by notaries and lawyers irrespective of the deal, whether it be the purchase of real estate or a vehicle or other transfer of ownership or bankruptcy.
One of the main changes for buyers and sellers will be the introduction of a waiting period during which the money subject to the deal will be kept at the deposit bank.

The French experience shows that this is usually about 25 days during which the seller cannot touch the money.
Another change is the new fee charged by the bank but no figures have yet been released as to what this might be although it is likely to be on a sliding scale relating to the price of the property being bought.

One of the concerns is that it may lead to buyers and sellers agreeing a lower price for the official transaction and then cash changing hands privately.

This is known to happen in France.

‘Many people are willing to risk not reporting the real amount of the sum as long as it saves them taxes,’ said Biserka Marinova, owner of real estate agency Lega Real.

Justice Minister Margarita Popova and Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov said they are confident that the bill will be approved by the end of the year.