Tips and advice for purchasing in Cyprus
Is the Buyer an EU Citizen OR Non-EU citizen?
a) EU Citizens
From May 1st 2004 Cyprus is a full member of the European Union, which means that the procedure for purchasing property in Cyprus is much easier for citizens of EU Member States and there are no restrictions on purchasing land and/or other immovable property (houses, apartments etc).
b) Non-EU Citizens
If a person not from an EU Member State wishes to purchase property, there are a number of restrictions in place regarding the number and size of property, including land. The purchaser would also need to obtain permission from the Council of Ministers before any immovable property is registered into his name.
Is the Property under purchase covered by its own deed?
a) Property with Title Deeds
Immovable Property (land, house, apartment etc) with existing title deeds – the Title Deeds of such property are immediately transferable onto a Purchaser provided that all the contractual and tax liabilities have been sorted by the parties.
Depending what type of immovable property is being purchased the lawyer will carry out the different searches at the Land Registry.
b) Property without title deeds.
New properties which are part of building projects are facing a delay with the issuing of separate title deeds. These delays are mainly caused by the fact that there may need to be a division of the title deed of the land on which the project has been constructed, and new title deeds issued one for each of the housing units which have been constructed on the same plot of land.
Example: A plot of land of 10,000 square metres in Utopia belongs to “Excellent Builders Ltd” and they are the registered owners of the same (meaning they are registered on the title deed of the land as the owners). “Excellent Builders Ltd” have obtained the relevant permissions and have constructed a project of 20 bungalows. There is therefore one title deed (for the land) which now has 20 separate housing units on it. “Excellent Builders Ltd” have to follow the necessary procedure to have new deeds issued for each of the 20 bungalows with the area of the land which belongs to each one. This is what we mean by saying “the issuing of separate title deeds”.
The lawyer will need to carry out a search at the Land Registry for charges registered on the title deed of the land on which the project has been constructed.
When the Title Deed to a property is available, then the purchaser has to pay the Land Registry a fee in order to register the immovable property (land, house, apartment etc) onto his name. These fees are known as Transfer Fees and are payable to the Land Registry by the Purchaser.
These form part of the purchase price and will effectively reserve the property and take the same off the market for usually around three or four weeks unless otherwise agreed i.e. once a deposit has been paid, the estate agent is not allowed to let anyone else to view the property with the intent of purchasing it.
The deposit is usually around €2,000/€3,000 but can vary according to the property being sold. For example, if a property is being sold for €100,000, we would expect the deposit to be around €2,000 but if the Property is being sold for €500,000, the deposit would be considerably higher and this could be around €10,000 depending on what has been agreed between the parties.
Reservation deposits are usually non-refundable in the event that a purchaser withdraws from a transaction regardless of whether he simply changed his mind or if he could not get loan funding needed for his purchase to proceed.
It is advisable that you agree with the estate agent prior to paying a reservation deposit that the deposit is refundable etc in writing. However it is preferable to pay the reservation deposit to your lawyer so that the necessary documents and/or contracts can be signed simultaneously with the payment of the reservation deposit to the Vendors’ lawyer.
If a property is being purchased “with Title Deeds” there is usually only one Contract of Purchase, which is between the vendor and the purchaser.
If the property is being purchased “without Title Deeds” there are usually three Contracts namely:
(i) Preliminary Agreement between Vendor and Purchaser
(ii) Cancellation Agreement between Vendor and Developer
(iii) New Contract of Purchase between Developer and Purchaser
Contracts are usually signed on the payment of 20-30% of the purchase price to the vendor’s Lawyer. Exactly when the Contracts will be signed depends on what has been agreed between the parties and how quickly the purchaser can get his funds in place.
Contracts can either be signed by the contracting parties themselves OR by an authorised person on their behalf (Power of Attorney). Purchasers/vendors need to make arrangements for the signing of contracts OR to give an appropriate Power of Attorney to their representative in Cyprus (usually a Lawyer) to sign the necessary paperwork.
The payment of the reservation deposit allows the purchaser time to arrange finances in his own country to be transferred to Cyprus (either in the client’s own account or in the Lawyer’s account as trustee) for the signing of the contracts.
The contract will also contain the agreed date by which the purchase will complete (usually known as “completion date”) and on which date the purchase price will usually be settled in full and the purchaser will take possession of the property (keys).
Estate duty in Cyprus has been abolished since 1st of January 2000. Having a Cypriot Will drawn up is strongly recommended for anyone who has purchased property in Cyprus to avoid complications at what can be a very difficult time, bearing in mind that there may be substantial differences between Cypriot Law and the Law of one’s home country. It is particularly important for co-habiting couples to execute Wills.
This information has been kindly provided by Eleni Philippou of Polycarpos Philippou & Associates – Click here for further information.