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A Comprehesive Buyers Guide, Legal and taxation Information



Buying a Property in Cyprus: Legal Procedure



The process of buying property in Cyprus is much the same as in the UK. Once you find your dream property, you make an offer on it. You then sign a contract, pay for it, and then sign a Deed of Ownership.

Selecting a Lawyer



You'll definitely need a lawyer to handle the buying process for you. - we can put you in touch with lawyers who are qualified in Cypriot law, if you haven't got one already.

Legal Procedure



Doesn't matter if you're buying land, off-plan property or a resale property in Cyprus - the same legal procedure applies.

Once an agreement is reached between the seller and the buyer, a Sale Agreement is drawn up.

4 copies of the Sale Agreement are made, and all four copies are presented to the District Land Registry Office. One of these copies is stamped with the word 'Original' and will be kept by the buyer's lawyer on the buyer's behalf. The remaining 3 copies are stamped with a currency stamp and certified as true copies of the original.

The stamp duty is paid by the buyer or their Power Of Attorney, and one of the copies of the Sale Agreement is registered with the District Land Registry Office for reasons of 'Specific Performance' (explained in the next section.)

One of the copies of the Sale Agreement is given to the mortgage provider if applicable. The final copy of the Sale Agreement is given to the seller.

The conditions of the agreement are then met and the buyer becomes the owner of the property.

Once the Title Deeds have been drawn up, all parties, or their lawyers, meet up at the District Land Registry Office to pay the land registration transfer fees, payable by the buyer. This transfers the property from the vendor to the buyer.

Specific Performance



The 'Law of Specific Performance' stipulates that once the Sale Agreement is deposited with the District Land Registry Office, and providing that both sides are in a position to effect the transfer, then within 6 months of notification by the buyer to the seller, the seller must effect transfer.

There are two aspects of Specific Performance, both designed to protect the buyer:

Once the certified true copy of the Sale Agreement is deposited with the District Land Registry, the seller cannot renege on the agreement, or sell it to someone else. This provides protection for the buyer and prevents gazumping.

Once the Sale Agreement has been registered with the District Land Registry Office, the transfer fees are calculated on the property value on the date that the Sale Agreement was signed.

Buying Off-plan Property in Cyprus: Sale Agreement



The terms and conditions that must be met by the developer will be set out in the Sale Agreement, along with the timing and amount of the various payments which the buyer will need to make. Once the Sale Agreement has been signed by the buyer,it becomes legally binding; there is no cooling off period.

Buying Off-plan Property in Cyprus: Stage of payments



The deposit is normally payable on signing the Sale Agreement, and developers will usually seek 20%-30% of the sale price for the initial payment.Once you've paid the deposit, a series of payments will be made depending on the development stage. The Sale Agreement will state that the developer must inform you or your lawyer that a particular stage is complete, and that payment for the next stage is due. This would be in the form of a 'Notice of Completion' which will be signed either by the architect or site engineer. After service of the notice, you are obliged to pay.

Buying Off-plan Property in Cyprus: Title Deeds



The Title Deeds for off-plan developments can take some time - 3 to 5 years. This is because the legal procedure to split the land from the apartments can only commence once they've all been completed.

Buying Resale Property in Cyprus



Buying an existing property is a simple process.
Your lawyer will first check that the Title Deed is correct in its description of the property. Your lawyer will then receive a draft Sale Agreement from the seller's lawyer. You can normally expect to pay approximately 10% of the purchase price for the deposit and 90% of the balance when the Title Deeds are transferred.

The cost of Buying a Property in Cyprus



In addition to the purchase price, there are other costs you also need to be aware of when working out your budget.

Your own lawyer's fees
Surveyor's fees
VAT is chargeable on a new property if it is not paid by the Developer

Buying a property in Cyprus: Title Deeds And Property Transfer Fees



Cyprus Property Transfer Fees are paid to the Cyprus Government when freehold ownership of the property is transferred from the seller to you, the buyer.

You'll be pleased to hear that you only pay the Transfer Fees once, when the property's title deed is legally put into your name. And believe it or not, this can take a very long time; 3 - 5 years is not unknown.

The Transfer Fee process



Once the Central Bank of Cyprus confirms that it has your purchase money, the Title Deeds can be transferred to your name. Once this transfer has taken place and the property has been registered in your name, the District Land and Surveys Department will charge the Transfer Fees. These are based on the market value of the property when you bought it, and are on a graduated scale.

PROPERTY VALUE (€)TRANSFER FEE RATE
The first 85,430.073%
85,430.08 - 170,860.145%
170,860.15 and over8%

The affect on Transfer Fees on buying jointly



If you buy a property in joint names, each joint owner is charged Transfer Fees on 50% of the property value. So if the property value is more than €85,430.07, you get a really good deal on Transfer Fees.

Let me show you what I mean
For a property purchased for €150,000 by just one person, Transfer Fees payable are €5,791,39.

Up to €85,430.07@ 3%€2,562.90
Remaining €64,569.93 @ 5%€3,228.49
Total transfer fees€5,791.39

But if you bought it jointly, each owner pays transfer fees on half of the property value.

50% of €150,000 = €75,000

Owner 1: €75,000 @ 3%€2,250.00
Owner 2: €75,000 @ 3%€2,250.00
Total transfer fees€4,500.00

The need for a lawyer in Cyprus



A lawyer in Cyprus knows all about the potential problems involved in the transfer of Title Deeds, so will be able to give you good advice and support.

Buying a property in Cyprus: Cost Of Living And Taxation



Lots of things are much cheaper than other European countries, and Cyprus regularly appears in surveys about prices and earnings as one of the top three least expensive countries for goods and services. You can live, eat and have fun in Cyprus very easily on quite a modest income, which makes it such a great place to visit, retire, ravel around or just live in and relax for a while.

Cost of living



The cost of living in Cyprus is generally lower than that in the UK. Utilities are cheaper, and although you have to pay local authorities for sewerage, rubbish collection, and council tax, it's a lot cheaper than even just the Council tax in the UK - around 250 Euro each year. At the time of writing that's about £250 - peanuts!

Taxation



Non-residents don't pay tax, and quite right too.

Foreign residents pay tax only on income earned in Cyprus. (To be considered a resident of Cyprus, you've got to live there for at least 183 days in any calendar tax year.) Cyprus has a Double Taxation Treaty with over 40 countries, including the UK, which means you won't pay tax in both countries. Thank goodness.

There's also something called a Defence Contribution which, as a resident, you pay against unearned income from things like rental and share dividends. These rates are between 3%-15%.

The following income tax rates apply to individuals:

Cyprus Individual income tax rates 2009

Tax %Tax Base (EUR)
0Up to 19,500
20%19,501-28,000
25%28,001-36,300
30%36,301 and over

Retirement



Anyone who retires to Cyprus pays very low income tax on their pensions - just 5% pa with the first 3500 Euros exempt. Cyprus' Double Taxation Treaties with many countries also means pensions aren't subject to withholding tax at source, although husbands and wives are taxed separately.

Some countries, such as Canada and the UK, have an agreement with Cyprus that allows state pensions to remain index-linked when pensioners are resident in Cyprus.

There are also quite a few duty-free privileges when you arrive in Cyprus as a retiree, including the duty-free importation of a car and personal effects.

Sun, sea, low cost of living, piffling tax rates - what are you waiting for?
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