Cyprus - The facts
It is our great pleasure to showcase the beautiful island of Cyprus, sitting at the crossroads of three continents; Europe, Asia and Africa. The intense Mediterranean climate of Cyprus enjoys balmy summers, fantastic sea temperatures with year round swimming and some of the warmest winter temperatures in Europe.
Cyprus boasts some of Europe’s finest Blue flag beaches, the Paphos area has 5 championship golf courses and breathtaking mountain trails with spectacular flora, fauna and ornithology. Take in the culture of Cyprus by following one of the themed routes around the island that encompass’ beautiful archeological ruins, world renowned mosaics and many UNESCO World Heritage sites across Aphrodite’s (the Goddess of Love) Island.
Those of you looking for something more energetic, how about off road biking on the many EuroVelo routes, jeep safari through the forests, jet skiing, sailing, windsurfing, kite surfing and surfing are all possible on our wonderful coast. Take a boat cruise; swim in the crystal blue waters or scuba dive some of the worldwide top dive wrecks.
Alternatively, you can take a tour of the wonderful wineries and indulge in some award winning wine-tasting, or sample other grape-based delicacies that are exclusive to Cyprus.
If you are looking for a high quality permanent home or simply a small summer get away, Cyprus is a country largely adapted to the already large number of overseas residents, with left hand drive roads, British road signs, favorable taxation schemes, low crime rates, extensive use of the English language, law that is largely based on the UK system, great Cypriot hospitality, cuisine and award winning wines. Cyprus has much to offer, and is indeed much of the reason it has become such a popular destination for the British.
Together with the fact that Cyprus is a full member of the E.U. as of May 1st, 2004, makes Cyprus an excellent investment opportunity.
Official Name: Republic of Cyprus
Population: 1 058 300
Highest Point: Mount Olympus 1952 m
Languages: English / Greek
Member of: UN / EU / Commonwealth
Guide for Buying Property
Who can Purchase Property in Cyprus?
• For EU citizens there are no restrictions to the number of properties that they can buy.
• For Non EU citizens i.e. Russians/Ukrainians/Chinese/Iranians/South Africans). In this category individuals are entitled to buy two properties in Cyprus, (house or flat). If land is purchased, the size is limited to 4011 square meters.
• However Non-EU citizens are fully entitled to establish a Cyprus registered company allowing them to buy as many properties as they choose.
• Any Legally Registered Company or Partnership that is registered according to the law of member state of the E.U.
Never a better time to buy!
The graph below shows how the pound to the euro has improved with the exchange rate meeting an all time high in Feb 2015.
Today: € 100,000 = £ 72,612 (at date of going to print Feb 2015 rate of 1.37717)
First things First
Only use a Licensed and Registered Real Estate Agent.
Before signing any agreement with anyone, your chosen lawyer/legal representative must carry out a search at the District Lands office. This is to check that the property has a Title Deed or has an application for a Title Deed in place and that the deed or application is entirely free of any encumbrances or memos. (a memo is a charge or lawsuit against the developer or development)
As a company I believe West Coast properties have established an excellent database of independent and reliable professionals; lawyers, architects, engineers and financial advisers, who will assist you in a safe and smooth transaction.
Your lawyer will ensure that the contract protects you and your investment. Under no circumstances should you enter into any contractual obligation with a developer or individual vendor without representation of an independent lawyer and real estate agent. Their job by law is to protect you.
1. Buying a Resale Property. Your legal representative should check:
• That there are Title Deeds for the land
• Building Permissions have been granted
• Building Permits Issued from the Land Registry
• Passed Fire Safety Permit
• If in a unified development a Division Certificate has been issued to show it has been divided
• Final Certificates of Approval once Land Registry has been built according to plan and permits
• Title Deeds transferred in the name of new purchaser
2. Buying a Land to Build a Custom Property. Your legal representative should check:
• Land Title Deed
• Building Permits are in place
• Must have road access (without it, building is not possible).
• Whether the supply of water and electricity is possible and to what expense.
• If the land is part of any zone and what build % is allowed or area where building is restricted; if so, find out the extent of the limitations.
3. Buying Off-Plan. Your legal representative should check:
• That a search is made to confirm that the land on which the project has been built is registered on the vendor’s name and to make sure that is clear of any encumbrances.
• That stage payments are in accordance with the progress of the work. Each stage should be checked and signed off by engineer and architect.
• The eventual transfer of the property and the issue of a title deed free from any encumbrances;
• That any mortgages owed by the developer on the share pertaining to your property have been removed by the bank.
• That possession is delivered to the purchaser upon execution of the contract where the building is completed and, if not completed, upon completion;
• That the Contract of Sale is stamped by the Tax Office and lodged with the Land Registry for Specific Performance purposes securing the property in your name as the new owner.
Clarifying Title Deed Status
• When the title deeds are in the name and in full possession of the vendor, your lawyer can do a straight forward transfer of sale contract between you and the vendors.
• When the title deed has not yet been purchased by the vendors from the developer that built the property, but proves to be free of any encumbrances on the search and is still in the name of the developer, the sale will be drafted as an assignment agreement i.e. under the new law you will assume the rights of the current vendor and by law the developer will transfer the deeds in to name of new buyer.
• When title deeds have not yet been issued and the Land registry search shows no encumbrances and the project has a completion certificate and AX number issued, you can purchase the property by an assignment agreement.
Costs related to purchasing a property
Before the contract is lodged in the Land Registry Office, it needs to be stamped by the Tax Office. Cyprus stamp duty is much less than the UK. In Cyprus it is levied at the rate of 0.15% for current property values up to € 170,800 and 0.2% for current property values above €170,800.
If a home is purchased at the value of € 200,000 in Cyprus the stamp duty is as follows:
€ 170,800.00 x 0.15% = € 256.20
€ 29,200.00 x 0.2% = € 58.40
Total Stamp Duty: € 314.60
Transfer fees - ALL FIGURES CITED BELOW ARE NOW SUBJECT TO A 50% DISCOUNT UNDER CURRENT TAX LAW INCENTIVES
• These are necessary in order to transfer FREEHOLD ownership to your name.
• This can be done as soon as the relevant Government Authority has issued the title deed and the purchase has been settled.
• The Property Transfer Fees are payable once only to the Land Registry Office according to the following scale:
3% On the €0 - €85,000 of the value of the property.
5% On the €85,001 - €170,000 of the value of the property.
8% On any amount above €170,001 of the value of the property.
Purchase price in Euros € 200,000 - If purchased in 1 name.
1st € 85,430 3% = € 2,563
2nd € 85,430 5% = € 4,272
3rd € 29,140 8% = € 2,331
Total € 9,165
However, if the property is purchased jointly by a couple (as is often the case) the property purchase receives a double allowance, which is beneficial to the purchasers as the following example shows:
Purchase price in Euros € 200,000 – If purchased in joint names.
1st € 85,430 3% = € 2,563 x 2 = € 5,126
Balance € 14,570 5% = € 728 x 2 = € 1,457
Total € 6,583
Saving: € 2,582
Contract registration in the Land Registry is a very important step and you must ensure you receive a copy of the stamped contract and not just any copy.
As a general rule, most law firms will offer a set fee to cover the entire transaction and we would advise you secure a set fee for the whole process.
• When purchasing a property up to € 250,000 legal fees are € 1500 + VAT
• When purchasing property over € 250,000 legal fees are € 3000 + VAT
• For properties €1 million and up fees are € 3500 + VAT
This will cover conveyance, opening of bank accounts, setting up of electricity and water accounts and concluding a successful purchase. NB. For Non EU citizens applying for residency in Cyprus, application fees are an additional €1000 + VAT (Prices quoted are a rough guide and will vary between law firms).
Day to day living costs:
• Electricity bills are approx. €50 per month.
• Gas central heating is approx. €200 per month.
• Water bills are approx. €10-€30 per month, depending upon private pool or not and location.
• Sewerage & Refuse tax (Council Tax) is approximately €140 per year, depending on property and area.
• IPT (Immovable Property Tax) approx. €150-€400 per year depending on value of property
Inheritance tax for those not domiciled in UK is not applicable in Cyprus. For tax residents of Cyprus, regardless of domicile you are able to "gift" property to your siblings / children during your lifetime, free of all taxes. Allowing you to pass on your property investments without the UK’s hefty government taxes. For more information on domicile you will need to seek professional advice based upon your personal situation and requirements, but as far as passing your property through your family, there is no tax applicable.
Cyprus and the UK have a double taxation treaty. Therefore, when you decide to move to Cyprus (for a minimum of 163 days per year non-consecutively) and can prove Cyprus is your main home, you pay a flat rate of 5% tax.
In many instances this can equate to a significant saving on your annual income and with the current exchange rates, your British sterling pension can go a long way in Cyprus!
If you are receiving a pension in Cyprus, you have a choice of two taxation systems:
1st -the flat 5% tax as described above or
2nd-your pension can be taxed at standard income tax rates in Cyprus i.e. with the first €19,500 tax-free.
Thereafter the following tax rates apply.
New pension laws coming into place
Further to this, the UK government is proposing a new pension reform from the 6th April whereby at the age of 55 you can access 100% of your personal pension as a lump sum in cash instead of the current 25%, allowing you access to much greater sums of capital that you may not previously of accounted for. This allows you to decide how you wish to invest your pension.
Capital Gains Tax
When your primary residence is in Cyprus you have an allowance of €85,000 on the profit of the sale of your first property.
For example, if the purchase price of your first property was €200,000 and you sold it for €285,000 there would be no capital gains tax to pay.
Anything over and above €85,000 tax will be at 20%
West Coast can advise on local financial planning experts.
In short, Cyprus offers excellent investment opportunities for those looking for value for money retirement and holiday homes.
We strongly believe the future for Cyprus is looking very bright, with natural gases now being explored off its coast line the wealth of the country will eventually increase exponentially. It has recovered well from its recent banking issues and 2 of its banks have recently been upgraded in their status demonstrating good recovery.
If things continue to improve as they have done over the last year then now is the best time to take advantage of not only a great exchange rate but of a depressed property market on the road to recovery.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss your property questions so please do not hesitate to contact us.