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Buying Property

Cyprus - Buying Property

In most countries the terms and conditions of buying or renting a property as an expat can largely depend on the zone from which the expat comes. Like in other European Union states, these rules apply differently for the citizens of the EU and those who come from outside the European Economic Area. Although the prices are the same, the process of purchasing can last a bit longer for non-EU nationals. It is also important to find out more about the banking services, especially when it comes to borrowing money and all the loan terms that are required.

Expats who move to the Republic of Cyprus usually find plenty of housing options available to them. The offers range from furnished and unfurnished apartments to houses, villas and some maisonettes in complexes with shared pools and similar additions.

Generally speaking, in recent years most of expats and foreign investors who move to Cyprus follow the trend of buying property, instead of renting it. Prices have been rising in recent years, as the general demand is increasing.

Those who want to discover more about the differences between the "Turkish North" and "Greek South" of Cyprus should know that the process of renting and buying accommodation is largely the same in both regions. Yet there is one major difference: in the southern part of the country, properties tend to be newer and fancier, but more expensive. It is much easier for foreign nationals to purchase the property in the south.

Buying property in Cyprus is a popular choice for the majority of expats and foreign investors. Among these buyers, there are both retirees and those with long-term employment contracts who want to settle on the island. Some expats find buying property in Cyprus far cheaper than renting it in the long run. It is also good to know that housing costs are also cheaper than in most Northern and Western European countries.

For citizens from the European Union, buying property in this country is a relatively straightforward process. The expats should also know that the progression of the property market and massive increase in development on the island has led to a higher risk of scams and property fraud in recent years. It is recommendable for expats to make sure that they have the necessary title deeds to the property they wish to buy prior to purchase.

When choosing to borrow money in order to buy property, expats should contact any commercial bank to discuss the details about the possible loan. The usual length of the loan period for a residence ranges from 20 to 25 years, and it can cover 70 percent or more of the real estate value.

Securing a loan may be a bit more difficult than it used to be, because of the banking crisis that struck Cyprus and the country's struggle under austerity. All the required information can be found on the official website of the Central Bank of Cyprus.

The steps for buying a property are as follows:

- Select a suitable property, agree a price with the owner (via the real estate agent if used) and pay a reservation fee via your solicitor.
- Solicitor draws up the contract.
- The contract is signed and a further deposit or the full outstanding amount is paid.
- Within 30 days of signing the contract, pay stamp duty of 1.5% per CYGBP1000, up to the value of CYGBP100,000, and 2% per CYGBP1000 on any amount above that, and property tax which is typically around CYGBP4,000 on a property costing CYGBP100,000.
- Once the contract is signed, solicitor applies to the Council of Ministers for approval for the title deeds to be transferred into your name.

The application to the Council of Ministers is a formality, as applications are seldom refused. The process may take many months, but there are no restrictions on taking ownership and living in the property while the application is being processed. The application to the Council of Ministers should include a bank reference, character reference, property purchase contract, documentation showing evidence of adequate funds to live in Cyprus, and a copy of your passport.

There is mixed advice on whether it is safe to buy land or property in Northern Cyprus, The region is currently being heavily promoted as a location for property investors and expatriates alike, with property here among the cheapest in the Mediterranean region. However, some potential buyers have been concerned by the recent case in which an expatriate couple were ordered by law to demolish their villa as it was built illegally on land owned by Greek Cypriots.

If considering buying property or land in Northern Cyprus, you might wish to ensure that it is covered by a title deed belonging to a Turkish Cypriot or foreign owner pre 1974, which will be recognised in international law. Many new properties are built on land which was nationalised after 1974, and these are guaranteed by the TRNC government.

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