Getting Started: First Steps to Buying Property in Cyprus
There is a large variety of property for sale in Cyprus and the island is one of the most popular European destinations for Britons looking to buy a second home and/or relocate to a new life in the sun. The Greek-Cypriot South is significantly more popular with homeowners than the Turkish North, which remains a more complex and risky proposition for potential purchasers. This guideline refers to the South and outlines the general procedure for buying property in the Greek Republic of Southern Cyprus.
The starting point is finding the right property. There are a number of options available: you can buy an existing property, purchase one that is under construction or design one yourself and commission a build. Each of these approaches comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and you’ll need the assistance of a reliable estate agent and a certain degree of patience to ensure success. It’s wise to research the area you want to buy in thoroughly and be prepared to make one or two trips to the island before signing on the dotted line.
If you intend to buy a property that is under construction you’ll need to exercise a certain degree of caution to avoid any of the potential pitfalls: make sure the land you are buying is the land you are being shown (deeds don’t always match the geography of the development) and that you have confidence it will be completed on time and to spec. You’ll also need to ensure you have access to water and electricity and that any future development in the area will not ruin the local ambience. Once you have decided on a property you’ll then need to pay for it.
A prerequisite to living in Cyprus is to open a Local Disbursement Account (LDC) with a bank in Cyprus. These accounts can only be opened with foreign currency and are essential for day-to-day living expenses. Getting a mortgage is tricky and most British people looking for property tend to buy with equity released from their UK home. You’ll have to transfer any funds to an authorised dealer on the island and exchange it into Cypriot pounds.
As well as paying for a property you’ll need to apply to the Council of Ministers for permission to live and own property on the island. Although this is normally a formality it can take a few months. You’ll also need to make sure that you acquire effective legal ownership of your property (check the title deeds belong to the vendor). The next step is to deposit a copy of the contract in the District Land’s Office within two months of the deal in order to secure it (they will want to see proof that you’ve paid for the property in foreign currency and permission from the Council of Ministers).Vendors have been known to change their mind and if you haven’t registered the deal you could lose the property. Finally it’s time to relax; open your patio doors, pour yourself a large martini and watch the sun going down whilst thinking of your friends and family sitting at home watching the rain.