If you are a EU national prior to relocation to Cyprus, you are treated just like a native Cypriot in the eyes of the law when it comes to purchasing houses and property in Cyprus.
If you are not a citizen of the European Union, you can still purchase land in Cyprus, but there are certain restrictions you have to adhere to as an expat. The below laws apply to those wishing to purchase houses in the official Greek-held southern part of Cyprus. If you want to purchase property in the Turkish-held northern part of Cyprus, it will be hard due to the fact that the northern state is unrecognized internationally, and rules and regulations regarding property will be difficult to uphold.
First of all, you must have permission from the Cypriot Council of Ministers to buy property as an expat. The house you purchase must be for your own use only; if you have lived in Cyprus for an extended period of time, or own a business in Cyprus, you may be able to get a permit to purchase a second house (such as a summer house). If you are moving to Cyprus with your spouse, you can only purchase one house between the two of you.
If you want to sell your house at some point, you will also need to acquire a permit to do so, and to purchase another property. You should also keep in mind that there are restrictions in place should you choose to rent out your property; you can only rent it out for a minimum of 30 days, and it has to be rented to residents of Cyprus (no short-term rents are allowed).
The purchase price of a house or apartment in Nicosia will vary according to size and proximity to the city centre.
In Nicosia, you can expect to pay around 160 Euros per square foot of an apartment in the city centre, and around 130 Euros per square foot of an apartment outside the city centre.
Simple two bedroom houses run from around 200,000 Euros to 350,000 Euros to purchase, depending on size, layout and location.
There are plenty of websites to help you search for the perfect property to buy in Nicosia. Check out some of the following:
Cypriot newspapers will often feature houses and apartments for sale in English. Check out one of the country's most popular newspapers, The Cyprus Mail, which also has an online edition you can check out.
If you know of anyone in Nicosia, they may be able to help you find a new property through their acquaintances and word of mouth.
You can also network with other expats to get a sense of what areas of the city are best suitable for you, and in which neighborhoods you are likely to get a good value for your money. Check out the Cyprus classifieds on the EasyExpat Forums to find fellow expats in Cyprus.
If you are moving to Nicosia for work, ask your colleagues or companies if they have any recommendations when it comes to buying a house or apartment.
There are plenty of real estate agents in Cyprus to help you find a home, including the above mention Ktimatagora agency, which has a useful website to help you search for properties, and Nicosia Prime Homes. In fact, most property sales in Cyprus are handled by registered estate agents, as they are the only ones allowed to advertise property apart from homeowners. Estate agents are also used to working with plenty of expats, so their offices always have English-speaking staff on hand and can help guide you through the process of buying property.
Agree to a fee in writing before the process begins and determine precisely what services you will be receiving in exchange for that money. It is worth obtaining quotes from a few different real estate agents and clarifying what each will provide. Before you sign a contract with an agent, be sure you understand the clauses and terms, and expect the agent to take 3-5% of the selling price of the property (though closer to 5% is most common).
Many Cypriots don't use written contracts for the transfer of real estate. Many times, the sale is simply registered at the Lands Office, provided there's a separate title deed for the property.
However, as a non-Cypriot, it is usually recommended you sign a written contract and then deposit it at the Lands Office within two months of the signing. It has occasionally happened that without a proper written contract, properties were sold to others before the buyer received the title deeds (which take months, and sometimes years to arrive).
Most expats hire a lawyer to deposit the contract on their behalf. The lawyer has to deposit the contract at the Lands Office in the district where the property is located, and make sure the original contract and a copy are both stamped by the office, though you as the buyer get to keep the original. You will also need to do the following:
With your lawyer, make sure you go over any conditional clauses in the contract, and include any you deem important for the seller to agree to and guarantee.
Once again, it is highly recommended you retain a lawyer to represent your interests when purchasing real estate in Cyprus, so they can guide you through the legal process of purchasing property.
A lawyer will make sure all stipulations and conditional clauses of the contract are acceptable, and will help you file any necessary paperwork with the local Lands Office. Make sure this filing is completed on time, within two months of signing the contract, otherwise the seller can sell the property to someone else and you will have little legal standing to contest it.
A good lawyer will also expedite the process of getting you your Title Deeds, which are the last significant papers you need to ensure your legal claim to your new property. Make sure the lawyer is independent from any estate agents, otherwise they may be acting in the interest of the seller or estate agent, rather than in your interests as a buyer.
The seller usually pays for estate agency fees, so they should not be your concern. If the seller pressures you to pay the fees, walk away because it is likely that they are taking advantage of you.
Most experts say that you should set aside approximately 10-15% of the purchase price of the property to cover legal fees, land registry fees, and any other costs that may arise.
Expect a slight increase in taxation once you get a hold of the property, since once a property is sold it is usually re-valued by the Land Registry Department, which may result in higher taxes.
The following table includes a rough breakdown of what you can expect to pay, fee by fee:
|Type of Tax or Fee||Payable By||Amount|
|Estate Agent Fee||Seller||3-5% of the property's registered value|
|Stamp duty||Buyer||0.5% of the property's registered value if the property is worth under 170,860 Euros; above that, the stamp duty is 0.2%|
|Mortgage Fee||Buyer||If you have a mortgage, you must pay a registration fee of 1% of the amount borrowed.|
|Legal Fees||Buyer||Most sources say a lawyer should cost around 1700 Euros to help you with the purchase of a property in Cyprus. However, if the property is large or in high demand, you may end up paying more for legal services.|
|VAT||Buyer||The VAT for first-time purchasers of property is around 5%. If it is not your first time, the VAT rises to 15%.|
|Surveyor's Fees||Buyer||It costs around 500 Euros if you wish to have the property surveyed.|
Without the use of a good lawyer, acquiring the Title Deeds to your new property in Cyprus can take anywhere from several months to a couple of years. As long as you have deposited your contract at the Lands Office, you still have a legal claim to the land and this shouldn't be a problem or a hindrance to you moving into the property.
Property auctions take place in Cyprus, usually after assets have been seized due bankruptcy or some other issue concerning the previous owners. Properties to be auctioned are placed in the hands of banks such as the Bank of Cyprus. You can check out the bank's listings at Properties for Sale, and stay informed on when the next property auctions in Cyprus will be.