Buying a property is one of the most significant investments many people will make in their lifetime. It can be an exciting and rewarding process, but it can also be overwhelming and stressful, especially for first-time buyers. From understanding your needs and budget to conducting due diligence and considering relevant costs and taxes, there are many factors to consider when buying a property. In this article, we will provide guidance and practical advice to help you navigate the process of buying property in Cyprus, from a legal perspective.
Permission to Acquire Immovable Property in Cyprus
To buy immovable property in Cyprus, Cypriots, EU citizens, and legal entities headquartered in Cyprus, or any other EU member state can purchase it without restrictions. However, non-EU citizens must obtain permission from the Council of Ministers.
Banks in Cyprus offer mortgages to both local and foreign buyers, subject to their lending criteria. The mortgage application process usually involves providing the bank with various documents, such as income and expense statements, bank statements, and proof of employment. The bank will also assess the value of the property and require a down payment from the buyer, usually 30% of the total value of the property.
Conducting due diligence is an essential step in buying property in Cyprus. It involves investigating and analysing the property to ensure that it has a clean title deed, is free from any encumbrances, and complies with all necessary planning permissions and building permits. The due diligence process should also involve a search into the potential seller’s history to ensure that they are authorised to sell the property and that there are no disputes or legal issues that could impact the sale.
When negotiating a property sale agreement, buyers must consider several key points to safeguard their interests. Firstly, ensure that the purchase price is fair and reflects the property’s market value. Secondly, the deposit amount must be reasonable, and the buyer should fully understand the conditions under which it can be forfeited. Thirdly, the contract may have specific conditions that need to be fulfilled before the sale can proceed, such as obtaining finance. Therefore, the buyer must review and ensure that these conditions are realistic and achievable.
Once the sale agreement has been signed, it must be stamped and deposited with the Land Registry. By doing this, the Land Registry is notified that the buyer has a legitimate claim to the property, which in turn prevents any other party from being registered as the owner of that same property. When submitting the sale agreement to the District Land Registry Office, a flat fee of €50 must be paid, payable by the buyer.
The buyer is responsible for paying stamp duty on the contract of sale of property in Cyprus. Stamp duty is charged based on the agreement’s value, with the first €5,000 exempted from stamp duty. For agreements valued between €5,000 and €170,000, stamp duty is calculated at a rate of 0.15%. For agreements exceeding €170,000, the stamp duty rate is 0.2%, with the maximum amount charged being €20,000.
The VAT rate in Cyprus is 19%, which is usually imposed on newly constructed properties. However, buyers can apply for a reduced 5% VAT for the first 200m2, provided that the property is residential and their first primary residence. It should be noted that a bill is currently under discussion by the Cyprus government to change the requirements that will apply for the reduced VAT.
Before the transfer of the title, the seller must settle all the taxes and utility bills in relation to the property, such as municipality charges, water board fees, sewer charges, and electricity fees. If applicable, the seller should also pay capital gains tax, which is imposed at a rate of 20% on the profit resulting from the sale of the property.
Transfer of the Property
After scheduling an appointment and submitting the necessary application and supporting documents to the District Land Registry Office, the title deed of the property will be transferred to the buyer’s name. On the day of the transfer, the remaining purchase price balance must be settled, and the transfer fees must be paid to the Land Registry.
The Land Registry calculates transfer fees based on the value of the property, as assessed by them, and these fees must be paid by the buyer. Transfer fees are not applicable when the purchase of the property includes VAT. The calculation of transfer fees is based on the below percentages, which is currently reduced by 50% according to existing regulations.
Current Rate of 50%
€0 – €85.000
€85.000,00 – €170.000
€170.001 and above