Buying a property in Cyprus can often be risky and potential buyers need to be careful when buying a property in Cyprus, especially if the title deed is not immediately available or even in cases where the Cyprus property has not received a building permit. Usually, those who are interested in buying property in Cyprus are EU and non-EU residents who are interested in acquiring property, with many being associated with acquiring Cyprus residence as well as migrating to Cyprus for tax purposes. However during the purchase of property in Cyprus usually problems arise. These problems could have been avoided if the buyers were aware of the proper process for buying property in Cyprus and had avoided the risks they may encounter along the way. The purpose of the publication is to help both potential buyers and existing buyers avoid possible risks when buying a property in Cyprus.
Some of the actions that can be taken to mitigate potential property risks are:
1. Appoint a representative in Cyprus and not rely on the developer’s statements. One of the mistakes that can be made is to sign a purchase agreement presented by a developer. These types of contracts are generally highly biased in favor of the developer. In addition, buyers need to be careful with attorneys who act on behalf of sellers.
2. Property due diligence. Carry out property due diligence and ensure that Cyprus property is not subject to an ownership dispute
3. Consider concluding a property contract and consider appropriate clauses taken into account. When concluding a property contract, make sure that sufficient and adequate clauses are included, especially in regard to the payment of property booking fees, conditional clauses that protect the buyer from losing money, reducing the purchase price under certain conditions, concluding a written statement of agreed property additions, preparation of an inventory of any necessary repairs or losses, etc.
4. Make sure that either in the case of a property contract or title deed, the relevant has been submitted to the Cyprus Land Registry. Either In the case of a contract or a title deed, the relevant must be deposited with the Cyprus Land Registry within the timeframe specified by Cyprus law. The buyer might lose important legal rights if this is not done on time.
5. Retention fee until the developer undertakes to issue the title deed. In cases of purchase of property under construction, there might be a retention fee clause until the developer undertakes to issue the relevant title deed. Such a clause may be requested and included in the property sale-purchase document.
6. Purchase of immovable in mortgaged projects. It is preferable to purchase property in a project that is not subject to mortgages or encumbrances from any financial institution or third party. There are cases where financial institutions have the right to sell the project in order to secure payment of the project debt. In many cases, protection can be applied when a contract of sale has been filed with the Land Registry. Cyprus introduced a specific performance law to give priority to the contract of sale over any pre-existing mortgage. The legislation provides the opportunity to the purchaser, when the object of the sale is mortgaged, to pay the amount due each time, under the Sale Contract, to the mortgage creditor directly and not to the vendor. When the purchaser pays that part of the mortgage debt that corresponds proportionally to the value of the property, he/she has purchased as compared to the total value of the property mortgaged, the Court may issue an order for specific performance, ordering the registration of the property in the name of the purchaser free from the encumbrance. The part of the mortgage debt that is attributable to the purchaser is determined by the ratio of the value of each property under sale, in relation to the total value of the mortgaged property. For more information, please visit the Cyprus Land Registry.
7. Make sure that there is a property management agreement before buying a property in Cyprus. Make sure that there is a property management agreement in place before buying a property in Cyprus ensuring that the buyer’s property is kept safe during any absences from Cyprus.
8. Αpartment complex running costs. Make sure the property management agreement includes a clause about how the apartment complex will be run and what the fees will be. Usually, the maintenance and sharing of common expenses among the apartment owners is also done by the developer through another related company and not by an independent third-party maintenance provider. If this is the case, make sure the associated fees are pre-agreed (as of now). If not, you should make sure that the developer’s related company is not overcharging.
9. Before buying a property in Cyprus, consider issues of succession and possible adequate structure regarding the ownership of the Cyprus property e.g. through the incorporation of a company in Cyprus, or through a Cyprus trust, etc. This may also help to avoid possible tax consequences in the future. Cyprus law governs property located in Cyprus, which includes an element of compulsory inheritance (forced heirship). However, some categories of foreign buyers have the right to circumvent these rules and cede the property as they wish. Buyers may also need to make a will once they have purchased the property in Cyprus.
1. Imposition of VAT on the acquisition and/or construction of property in Cyprus with zero amount (in cases of secondhand property), 5% or 19% on the purchase value of the Cyprus property. 5% VAT is imposed when buying property in Cyprus to be used as the primary and permanent place of residence in Cyprus if a Cyprus non-resident statutorily declares Cyprus property as its primary residence depending on the size of the property and subject to conditions. The buyer, at his request, can ask the Seller to handle the VAT procedures.
2. Transfer fees. Certain property transfer fees apply to property in Cyprus and are based on the market value of the property. No immovable property transfer fees will be payable if the transfer relates to a transaction that is subject to VAT (e.g. new build) (e.g., either standard or reduced rate of VAT). In case the property is not subject to VAT, the Cyprus property is subject to a transfer fee reduced by 50%.
3. Cyprus Stamp duty. Cyprus law stipulates that stamp duty is paid on any contract in accordance with the value of the contract relating to any property located in Cyprus. The due date for stamping a property contract subject to stamp duty is within 30 days from the day of the signing of the contract.
4. Cyprus immovable property. Cyprus’ immovable property tax was abolished on 1 January 2017. Certain taxes may arise before 1 January 2017.
5. Cyprus Inheritance tax. Cyprus inheritance tax has been abolished since 1 January 2000.
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Accordingly, no person, entity, or corporation should act or rely upon any matter or information as contained or implied within this publication without first obtaining advice from an appropriately qualified professional person or firm of advisors, and ensuring that such advice specifically relates to their particular circumstances.