Reasons to buy a property in Cyprus are plentiful: better weather, fresh food, amazing views of the ocean and mountains, less traffic, easy pace of life, and a wide variety of things to do and see. Add to this the fact that English is a widely spoken language, and in Cyprus you drive on the right side of the road, it’s no wonder us Brits feel so at home.
Famagusta has lovely beaches, Larnaca has an eclectic seafront board walk, Limassol has everything a great city could possibly offer and Paphos still attracts the Brits in droves. For those that want the quiet, laid back, traditional feel of Cyprus, Polis and Latchi provide a close knit hub for relaxation. There truly is something for everyone in Cyprus and the best thing is that it only takes a few hours to drive from one side of the island to the other! Whether you’re looking for a traditional village meal near the Troodos Mountains, a fun day out in one of the many water parks, or a relaxing walk along the ocean and hillside trails; it’s available in Cyprus.
Buying a property in Southern Cyprus for a European citizen is very straightforward and quick – but you must make sure you do your homework. Get independent advice and get it right first time. Since Cyprus became a part of Europe in 2004, restrictions that were in place are now far more relaxed. European citizens can now own as many properties as they like with no visa restrictions. However, for citizens who come from outside of Europe, it’s really best to take specialist advice from an emigration expert, or seek help from your Embassy as the criteria – although constantly changing – is still quite strict.
In Southern Cyprus, you should allow a minimum of 15% over and above the purchase price to cover your Legal and Land Registry Fees and any other anomalies. There should be no Estate Agency fees for purchasing; if there are, query this as the seller normally pays these fees. Once purchased, properties in Southern Cyprus are often re-valued by the Land Registry Department. This can result in an additional increase in the tax to be paid, so do beware of that. Revaluations can be challenged, but often the legal fees to do this end up costing more than the increase.
Before you even think about getting on a plane to Southern Cyprus to purchase your dream property, make finding an independent solicitor the very first thing you do -or you could live to regret it. Why? Not all solicitors who deal with foreign property transactions act solely in your interests.
So what should you look for? First and foremost, your solicitor should be someone you feel you can trust – and very importantly, someone you can communicate easily with. Compare several. There must be no grey areas in communication, if there are, walk away. Good solicitors cost more, but they are worth every penny for peace of mind.
You can either use a UK solicitor or a local solicitor on the island. Either way, don’t be pushed into making an urgent decision; it’s important that you take your time. It is true to say that UK solicitors may be more expensive, but they are extremely thorough. You need to be 100% sure that you will own the land and the property built on it. And it goes without saying that your solicitor must be able to obtain your Title Deeds within a reasonable time frame. Title Deeds are an issue in Cyprus, which is why choosing the right solicitor is absolutely imperative.
The two words “independent solicitor” are very important. Your solicitor must be totally independent from the estate agent, developer, or company showing you properties. You must be sure he or she is acting for you and you alone, with no interest towards the property professional. Sadly, some solicitors can draw up contracts in favour of the estate agent or developer. So you can see why there would be a conflict of interest at the outset.
You also need to bear in mind that the legal system in Southern Cyprus may not work in your favour if trouble strikes. Do not put yourself in the position of needing legal redress. You may have the law on your side, but the legal system in Southern Cyprus can tie you up for years and cost a fortune. Finally, what’s the best advice? It’s simple. Make sure you – and your solicitor – get it right from the start.