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Why do I need a lawyer when buying property in Cyprus?

There are many advantages to buying a property in Cyprus, whether it’s a permanent move or an investment in a holiday home. The year-round sunshine, relaxed culture breath-taking scenery, picturesque villages, bustling cities to name just a few.

However, there are a number of pitfalls that foreign buyers may encounter when purchasing a property in Cyprus, so potential buyers should exercise caution when buying a property in Cyprus and always seek the advice of an independent lawyer in Cyprus.

What are the pitfalls of buying a property in Cyprus? 

As with a property purchase anywhere in the world, there are some pitfalls to be aware of when buying a property in Cyprus. Some of the common issues buyers face when purchasing property in Cyprus are as follows:

  • Difficulty in obtaining title deeds
  • Land/property mortgaged by developers
  • Lawyers linked to vendors, estate agents and/or developers/builders
  • Fluctuations in currency exchange rates
  • Issues relating to planning permission

How can I protect my assets when buying a property in Cyprus?

The good news is, all of these issues are easily resolved! Here are our top tips to ensure that your property purchase in Cyprus is as safe and stress-free as possible.

1. Seek independent legal advice

By ‘independent’ we mean that your lawyer should not be linked in any way to the vendor, estate agent and/or developer or builder. The reason for this is to avoid any conflict of interest. While it may be tempting to save costs on legal fees by using an agent or developers “free” or “recommended” legal services, ultimately not using your own independent lawyer could cost you much more long-term. It’s crucial that you instruct a lawyer that will sufficiently protect your interests from the very beginning.

It’s essential when signing a reservation agreement for a property purchase in Cyprus that it outlines the agreed deposit for the property and the circumstances in which a refund will be paid. This offers protection and means that if your Cypriot lawyer finds that there are legal issues, such as difficulties obtaining ‘clear title deeds’, then your deposit can be refunded.

Instructing an independent lawyer is particularly important in Cyprus as it is common practice for developers to take out mortgages on land or property. This debt can be passed on to the buyer if you sign a contract and the builder/developer/landowner goes bankrupt, for instance. A reputable lawyer acting on your behalf should check whether there are any mortgages on the land or property and advise accordingly. Unfortunately, a lawyer associated with the developer may not be upfront about such details.

They will also ensure that the property in Cyprus matches the description on the title deeds and check that no alterations (such as additional buildings/structures, swimming pool etc.) have been made to the property without the required planning permission. If such alterations are not included on the title deeds, an application must be made to authorise these amendments to the property before completing the property purchase in Cyprus.

In addition, your Cypriot lawyer will make sure that all terms negotiated between the vendor and buyer are outlined in the contract of sale.

Your lawyer should be registered with the Cyprus Bar Association and specialise in guidance on immovable property law in Cyprus.

If you’d like a recommendation for an independent English-speaking lawyer in Cyprus call us on 01244 470339 or email info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk

2. Be clear about the costs of buying property in Cyprus before signing a contract

Before making a decision about buying a property in Cyprus you need to be aware of the full costs involved with the property purchase in Cyprus. Request a breakdown of the costs – legal fees, surveyor’s fees, property taxes etc. – at your first meeting with you lawyer in Cyprus, so that you can budget and won’t find your final bill a nasty surprise! Find out more information about the costs of buying a property in Cyprus.

You should also be aware of the ongoing costs involved with the running of the property in Cyprus. What local taxes are payable? What will your utility bills cost? Ask for copies of recent bills from the current owners so you can get a clear idea of what your monthly outgoings will be. If the property is part of a communal building you will also need to check what the annual service charge is.

3. Enlist the help of a currency exchange specialist

When buying a property in Cyprus you will usually need to pay the purchase price in Euros. If your money is held in a UK bank account, this means that you’ll need to exchange the funds from Pounds Sterling into Euros, and the high street banks often charge a hefty commission and do not provide a very good exchange rate. A currency specialist can typically save you between three to five per cent of the property purchase amount compared to the banks – potentially saving you thousands of pounds.

In addition, currency exchange specialists can help you ‘fix’ a favourable exchange rate for up to two years, which means that you won’t be negatively affected by exchange rate fluctuations. This can be particularly useful to manage mortgage payments in Cyprus and can be used to fix the euro purchase price amount in pounds sterling, so that currency fluctuations do not result in an increase of the property price between making your offer and paying the purchase price due.

Find out more about how a currency exchange specialist can help you save money!

If you’d like a recommendation for a currency exchange specialist call us on 01244 470339 or email info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk

4. Draft a Will

Once your property purchase in Cyprus is complete it’s advisable to draft a will in Cyprus. In Cyprus, there is forced heirship legislation which, depending on your circumstances, may apply to your estate in Cyprus. Getting proper legal advice in relation to a Cypriot will ensures that your property in Cyprus will be disposed of according to your explicit wishes. Having a separate will in Cyprus, which covers your property and other estate in Cyprus, also means that probate in Cyprus can be less complicated and time consuming.

For more information about buying property in Cyprus check out our guide to Buying Property in Cyprus. You can also call us on 01244 470339 and email us on info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk – our friendly team will be happy to offer FREE initial advice!

We can also put you in touch with independent English-speaking lawyers in Cyprus, currency exchange specialists and mortgage specialists.  

You might also be interested in…

What is the cost of buying a property in Cyprus?

The property buying process in Cyprus