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Buying Property

Egypt - Buying Property

Migrants Are Permitted To Purchase Egyptian Real Estate

In 2007, the Egyptian government lifted the restrictions which stopped international buyers being able to purchase property there. However, only those who hold a residency visa can access this right, and purchasing a property does not give you right to a residency visa.

Incomes in Egypt are much lower than in Western countries, and this is reflected in the property prices. You may be surprised how far your money can stretch, especially if you avoid areas of high housing demand, such as safe areas with access to local amenities. That said, there are restrictions on Egyptian money being sent abroad, so purchasing real estate is a popular investment vehicle for those Egyptian families who have the funds to do so.

Mortgages offered to migrants in Egypt are rare. Some property developers will offer special financing deals.

However, before investing any of your life savings into the Egyptian property market, you must consider all the risks. There are a lot of them. And they could cost you every penny invested, if not more.

No One Will Come To Your Rescue

If you get scammed, or invest unwisely, or are the victim of poor practice, there will be little you can do about it. No embassy or consulate can act on your behalf in a property dispute, either to lobby or take legal action.

You will be left to the mercy of the Egyptian legal system. It will be expensive, as you will be paying lawyers’ fees and court costs. Moreover, the legal system in Egypt is somewhat confusing to expats and can leave you uncertain about how the case stands beyond what your lawyer tells you.

If you believe your lawyer acted in an unprofessional or criminal way, a complaint can be made to the Egyptian Lawyers’ Syndicate.

Estate Agents In Egypt Are Not Regulated

You must choose an estate agent carefully. There are no national regulatory bodies which oversee complaints and take disciplinary action.

It is therefore important to find reliable, external evidence or recommendations about your estate agent. A modern, attractive website is not indicative of the agent’s reliability or services.

There are always risks around future property prices, and if they fall, you will be unlikely to recover your full investment. However, if you are persuaded to purchase property at more than its market value at the time of purchase, your risk increases. A dishonest real estate agent who sells you overpriced property that belongs to a relative or a property developer who is paying them a large commission is not working for your best interests.

Your lawyer will also arrange payment of the deposit and balance to the property seller. Do not do this via the estate agent, a developer or a property owner directly, regardless of the reasons you are asked to do so.

Never pay anything in cash, but bear in mind that the widespread tax avoidance culture means you will be asked to repeatedly and may be offered incentives to do so. Bear in mind that being asked to pay cash can also be a red flag indicating a scam.

Before A Lawyer Starts To Work For You…

Firstly, do not take on a lawyer recommended by an estate agent or property developer. Whilst this is an easy option, you cannot be confident that your lawyer would be working independently for you.

Only appoint a lawyer who has specialist property experience. They will know the risks and pitfalls and how to check for them. It is worth paying for this independent expertise given the amount you will be investing in the property.

The lawyer should only commence working for you when both parties have signed a contract. The contract should be in English, or translated, so that you understand each clause. A fees schedule must be part of the contract, which also sets out all the other fees and charges you will be expected to pay as part of the property transaction.

You need this information set out clearly so that you have sufficient funds available, and don’t receive unexpected charges.

Written Assurances You Need To Obtain From Your Lawyer

Your lawyer should investigate the current property owner’s title of the land and buildings, and whether there are any charges over it or if third parties have any rights over it. Historic properties can have complicated ownership between different members of a family, or may have official records which do not match the deeds or asserted ownership position. If you run into the latter, it could be a time consuming and costly affair to sort out. However, you must make the choice between working through the complex process to secure a clear legal ownership position, or walking away. Do not go ahead with a purchase in the hope a supposedly dead or disinterested relative won’t suddenly have kin demanding their due through the courts.

Some developers run into disputes about the land they are building on, or may have problems with the local authorities about a range of issues. Ensure any developer you work with has clear ownership of the land and an undisputed construction license, with the buildings adhering to the terms of that license.

The owner of any building can sell a part of it without giving rights to the land upon which it sits. This is an important detail your lawyer must check, and the situation must be specified clearly in the contract.

You must be clear that your lawyer has investigated, identified and confirmed to you that no such problems exist. If you go ahead and buy the property, you take on the legal and financial repercussions of any dispute or charge that exists or develops.

It will be part of the lawyer’s task to ensure all property taxes and utilities are paid by the previous owner up to the date of the sale. Otherwise, you will be asked to pay the outstanding bills.

Pay Developers In Instalments

Developers will often try to get as much money out of you as fast as they can. However, if they receive the money up front you risk them walking away without even completing the project.

Therefore, only pay each instalment as it contractually becomes due, and make the payment through your lawyer. The final instalment should only be made once you have visited the property yourself to see that everything has been completed, and all official processes have been completed.

Signing Contracts

You must understand every clause of the contract you are signing. Therefore, an English translation - written or checked by a trusted independent source - must be read by you.

Check that all the details are correct, including the property details and the agreed price. Your solicitor is supposed to check this thoroughly, but you never know whether it has been done by a junior member of staff or during a busy period of the day.

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