It is also important that you as a buyer find the lawyer and not rely on one that is referred to you by the seller or developer. Always check that the lawyer is registered with the Cyprus Bar Association.
Many buyers end up hiring a lawyer only after they have run into problems after they have paid a deposit and signed contracts. Save yourself some headaches and hire a lawyer before declaring interest in a property.
Points to keep in mind when purchasing property in Cyprus:
First of all, ensure that the seller of the property is the legal owner and that there are no unpaid debts against the property. If you have chosen a property that is under construction, your lawyer should make sure that all the proper planning and building permits have been obtained by the builder. Verify that all paperwork like contracts is filed through the local Cyprus Land Registry.
Your contract of purchase must be deposited at the District Land Registry within 60 days of signing, creating a specific performance with the stamp duty paid.
A specific performance creates an encumbrance to be placed on the title deeds so the seller cannot change his mind, sell, or take out a mortgage on the property during the period it takes to transfer the title to your name.
Your contract of purchase must include time-scales for the title to be transferred to your name and the consequences incurred by the seller should this not occur.
All legal concerns must be checked thoroughly by your lawyer but you too should have a good understanding of the process.
Never sign any document or hand over any money without your lawyer’s approval.
Make sure the seller is the legal owner and there are no outstanding debts or memos relating to the property. Your lawyer will be able to check this for you.
A memo is a legal claim ‘encumbrance’ on the property ordered through the court. A memo can be any debt owed to anyone that has not been paid. The court issues the memo against the property or land until the debt is paid. The property/land cannot be sold unless the debt is cleared. In most cases your lawyer will advise that the memo will be cleared when you purchase the property/land and the debt will be cleared by your lawyer as part of his legal brief. Only your lawyer can advise about each memo and its consequences. Most properties do not have memos placed on them. However, it does occur even though in most instances it is just routine procedure.
When purchasing an off plan, under construction or newly built property, make sure the seller has the building and planning permits. Delays can occur due to local authorities and other reasons. Your lawyer needs to make provision in your contract for such contingencies.
All co-owners must sign the contracts of sale to avoid subsequent disputes.
Foreigners Purchasing Property in Cyprus
Unless you are a Cypriot resident, you must apply with the Council of Ministers for permission to purchase property or a house on the island. If you are a European national who is not a resident of Cyprus, you can buy all the land you want but are limited to one house or apartment. If you are a non-European national, you are limited to the equivalent of approximately one acre of land (about 4,000 meters square) and one house or apartment.
The process for approval can take as long as six months but the great thing is that you can take over the property in question while waiting for approval. Of course, there is always that minute chance that you might not be approved. If this does happen (which it rarely does), the contract on the property is still valid, but you will have to be advised by your lawyer on the next step.