Property Purchasers

Age of property Traditionally Cyprus houses were built with stone. This helped insulate occupants from summer heat but was rather cold in winter so open fires, usually of wood, were common.

But the vast majority of houses now are of hollow brick and single-skin. Double-skinned walls, wall- and loft-insulation and double-glazed windows are seldom offered by developers. With the influx of settlers from other E.U. countries since accession to the E.U. we are beginning to see the application of more efficient building standards but they are still the exception. That said, local building standards, particularly of the main developers, are still good. Neverthess in the coldest (January to March) and warmest (July to mid-September) months heating and air-conditioning will be felt necessary.

Wiring and plumbing standards have improved in recent years, becoming more accessible for maintenance and more durable. Wood for shutters and railings is beginning to be replaced by aluminium and other metals, though pergolas are still usually of wood.

So, unless one is happy to snap up a bargain and undertake extensive renovations, it is advisable to avoid properties more than 20 years old.

Banks There are three main banks here - Bank of Cyprus, Hellenic Bank and Laiki Bank, as well as smaller operations such as Arab Bank, Co-operative Bank and Crédit Lyonnais. These banks offer the usual services of current accounts with cheque books, notice deposit accounts, foreign currency accounts (e.g. to receive a regular sterling pension payment), automated teller machine cards, credit cards, standing orders and internet banking. See also 'Mortgages' below.

Buying off-plan Buyers have essentially four choices: to buy a pre-owned property off its owner or their agent; to buy a new property already designed and built or to be built by a developer; to buy a new property purpose-built for them by a developer with their input in the design; or (a variant of the third) to buy a piece of land and build, or have built, a dwelling on it. If a developer sells the plot, the purchase contract may well have a clause requiring the buyer to agree a design and have the property built by the developer.

Cars New and used cars are readily available in Cyprus. Cars may be imported from other countries, usually at a saving but at the cost of considerable effort and paperwork. The market is becoming more competitive as Cypriots seem less ready to buy used cars than others and sellers' forecourts seem to be filling up. Motoring in Cyprus features less of the stop-start motoring that wears out cars in other countries. Nor do cars suffer under such cold winter temperatures as elsewhere. Running air conditioners does place an extra burden on cars, however. Relatively dusty conditions require owners to change their engine oil more frequently than in other countries.

Companies set-up Busy Bee Rentals can help you to set up a company to take advantage of Cyprus's favourable tax regimes.

Cost of living A Scottish gentleman of our indirect acquaintance calculated that it should be possible to live comfortable in Cyprus on £10,000 a year. That was before E.U. accession and the imposition of value-added tax on foodstuffs but, although costs have gone up, it should be possible to live in Cyprus more cheaply than in, say, the U.K. Obviously factors such as life-style come into play but there are some general principles one can follow. As regards food, generally buying local produce when it is in season is cheaper. Shop around (though bear in mind the cost of petrol when doing so). Buying on-line can afford savings for clothing and domestic electrical goods. Buying from other E.U. countries avoids tax but sometimes, even with the added cost of tax and postage, it is cheaper to buy from the United States.

Covered area This figure can be deceptive; it usually refers to indoors but may include verandas. The plot ratio (covered area to total plot) is dictated by the density for the area as set by government.

Developers The main developers' names will quickly become familiar. They all have their characteristics - some have better locations than others, some have better designs, some have better construction standards. There are web-sites that feature some of the horror stories from buyers who have been unlucky with their choice of developer. Buyers should take advice from agents who are independent of developers and talk to those who have bought property from those developers. And they should employ lawyers when buying so that a developer's title to the land being sold, and whether it is mortgaged, can be established.

Estate agents' re-sales We work with other estate agents and have a network of contacts that enhances our ability to find a property that matches your requirements.

Foreign exchange [I believe this is covered in another section. A cross-reference (and hyperlink?) should suffice. To do: find where it is covered.]

Inspection trips (accommodation flights) The main developers may often provide free or cheap flights and accommodation to enable potential buyers to inspect sites and properties. This is a good way of obtaining a cheap holiday but buyers have to play fair - if they fail to attend a reasonable number of viewings or, in some cases, fail to buy a property, they may find themselves liable for all their costs. Free accommodation typically would cover room charges but not meals.

Insurance Most settlers here need insurance for (1) buildings and contents, (2) motor vehicles and (3) medical costs. Pensioners from other E.U. countries can obtain medical benefits in Cyprus on a similar basis as at home. Public health care in Cyprus is generally excellent medically-speaking but can lack a little comfort and convenience - long waits for attention are the norm. So taking out private cover can make in-patient treatment more comfortable. Taking out a package of all three types of cover from the same insurer can afford bulk discounts on the premia. Your agent can advise you on reputable providers.

Lawyers These vary in quality. Some have close ties with developers and it may be better for buyers to avoid them. Your agent can provide you with introductions to reputable and efficient legal counsel.

Location In Cyprus this falls into the categories of tourist, mountain/village and coast. A property by the sea is likely to have attractive sea views but may well suffer from humidity. One in a tourist area will have proximity to shops, restaurants and entertainment but can be noisy - buying such a property is more likely to be for the purpose of renting out on a short-term basis to holiday-makers. Many, particularly the recently-retired, prefer to settle inland, in a traditional village setting or a purpose-built enclave. Even 5-10 kilometres inland properties can be found with spectacular views over the coast to the sea.

Much of building land is on a slope. A house built below a road is liable to be colder and receive sun later than one above.

A higher property will usually be cooler than one close to the sea. The difference between the temperature at 400 metres above sea level and that by the coast is usually at least one or two degrees centigrade and can be as much as 5°C.

Maintenance Charges If a buyer purchases a communal property they will usually have to pay a percentage of communal maintenance costs, e.g. garden and pool up-keep.

Mortgages Banks in Cyprus can provide mortgage loans to foreign property purchasers. Similar conditions apply as in other countries, although banks here are relatively conservative. The maximum percentage of the cost provided will vary between 50% and 80%, depending on the intended use of the property and the permanence or otherwise of the buyer's residence. The bank will have to be satisfied as to the developer's or owner's title to the property and the reasonableness of the price. The buyer will be expected to commission a survey (or valuation for a new property unless the bank is already familiar with the development) and to engage lawyers to investigate title. Further documentation will be requested, e.g. passports, proof of address, statements. This is obviously a complex matter and further details can be provided on request

Moving companies Various companies in Cyprus can help you with moving your belongings here and if necessary storing them while a property is completed. We can provide introductions.

Plot size, shared developments Generally speaking, plots average 700 square metres and upwards. Anything less is probably a shared plot and this will have implications for building permission.

Presentation We can make presentations to explain the Cyprus property scene and can organise inspection tours of properties and areas.

Property Management If you purchase a property but do not intend to occupy it continuously - e.g. as a holiday residence or for rental purposes - we can look after it for you, e.g. by maintaining gardens and pools, holding the keys, arranging periodic cleaning.

Property search Our extensive network can help us find the right property for you if you tell us what you are looking for or you cannot find it on this web-site.

Rental assistance We can provide assistance to identify the right rental property if you prefer to rent here, or intend to rent while looking for a property to purchase.

 

Reservation  First of all please check that your chosen property is still shown as available and let us know you are about to make payment so we can check with the owners that they have not committed it elsewhere.  We will then provisionally reserve the property with an oral agreement.  To complete the reservation we require €3,000 - €5,000, which counts towards the full purchase price.  Normally this fee is not refundable but it is transferable to other properties within a one-year time limit.

Settling Persons who have not already lived outside their home countries for extended periods may experience some homesickness, though the island's experiences from tourism help - road signs are in English and Greek, menus are usually multi-lingual and Cypriots normally have enough of a smattering of other languages to make communication possible. It helps if one makes an effort to make friends. People one meets in restaurants, through one's hobbies (e.g. the gym) and elsewhere are normally prepared to be friendly and only too glad to share their experience. We recommend that new settlers make an effort to learn some Greek (see also our tongue-in-cheek guide on this subject in 'Information Guide / About Cyprus / Greek Language' [add hyperlink?]). The local authorities run very cheap classes for foreigners or one can go to a language school or private teacher.

Tax Cyprus has a relatively simple tax system and normally lower rates than other countries.

Spending less than 180 days in any year in one's home country may exempt one from that country's income tax. Income tax in Cyprus offers two routes: either 5% of world-wide income or a tiered rate with a tax-free band - the cross-over point is about [€10,000?].

In addition property owners are subject to two types of tax, local authority tax and immovable property tax.

V.A.T., value-added tax, applies to most goods and services and is generally 15%, though some items, such as property re-sales, are exempt and some foodstuffs are subject to a lower rate.

Title deeds [This applies to both buyers and sellers. Perhaps it needs a separate section with a cross-reference (& hyperlink?).]

Tours These are not just for tourists. Even those who settle in Cyprus can benefit from them. They will see sights that they not find otherwise, acquire information and enjoy letting someone else do the driving. Companies run tours to the Akamas peninsula (a nature reserve), to the Troodos, to picturesque villages inland and elsewhere.

Alternatively, let us know what type of property you are looking for and we can take you on a tour of potential acquisitions.

Utilities In buying a property it is necessary to consider the provision of sewerage, water, electricity and telephone services.

As regards sewerage, most properties currently have cess-pits but there is an extensive project underway in Paphos and environs, causing much disruption to the roads, to install a centralised system and to connect properties to it. Meanwhile one periodically has to arrange for emptying.

Water is usually provided through the local community board, though in some cases may be arranged through the developer of one's property.

Registration with the Electricity Authority of Cyprus, and transfer of the account from the developer's or previous owner's name into one's own, will be necessary. It may be necessary to leave a deposit, though the E.A.C. may waive this if one can supply a copy of a property sale-and-purchase agreement, or the title deeds.

The main telephone service provider is Cyta, though the government has opened up the market to other providers. A provider should offer fixed land- and fax-lines, mobile telephone service (either a continuing account or pay-as-you-go) with texting, answer-phone, call waiting and other services, internet services and security alarm 'phone services. Here too a deposit may be requested. Internet connections can be dial-up or broadband. Speeds are reasonable here. Blackberry e-mail services are now available through providers such as Cyta and M.T.N.

One can choose to pay each bill as it arrives or to arrange standing orders with one's bank. Setting up a standing order takes time for the bank but the bill itself should indicate whether it will be settled by standing order or whether individual payment is still necessary.

Views (see also 'Location' above) A spectacular view is usually a big plus in a property. But view can also mean more exposure to the elements. During the winter Cyprus can experience storms with strong winds, heavy rain or hail, or even, but not often, snow. Thus in the case of a property up on a slope with a good view it is necessary to ensure that the garden is properly landscaped with good drainage, that windows on the view-side have good shutters, that loose items such as poolside loungers, tables and chairs can be stowed away and that there are no excessive gaps under external doors and French windows.

Mortgage application form (Bank of Cyprus) Mortgage declaration (Bank of Cyprus) Documents for loan (Bank of Cyprus)
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