Home away from home
MOST people who visit Cyprus find it so attractive that they don’t want to go back, and many decide either to make the island their base while working in the Middle East, or to eventually retire there.
The cost of living has gone up slightly as the island prepared for, and then gained, EU membership. But it is still way cheaper than the UK, and most of Europe, with the bonus of plenty of sun and a wonderful relaxed way of life. Foreigners can buy property there (but only one house or apartment), and can hold the title deeds on approval from the Council of Ministers. Even if you buy a flat in the Republic of Cyprus, it can be ‘freehold’, giving you part-ownership of the land on which the block is built.
Many property developers operate in the market, and the majority of new developments aimed at expatriates offer private or communal swimming pools among the facilities. Quality of workmanship and finishing is generally very high.
Apart from checking electricity, water and service connections, availability of title deeds is really the main point to check if you are considering buying on the island. Apart from the problems created by division of the island and separation of refugees from their land and property, you have the added complication of inheritance laws. A little bit like the Sharia’ law of Islamic countries, Cypriot law gives each child rights to their parents’ property, so you find multiple owners of one house. And it can’t be sold unless they all agree!
You, therefore, need to be particularly careful about establishing who actually owns the land or existing property, and establish whether the title deeds are available. Some overseas buyers assume that if they buy new property from one of the developers they can overcome that problem; however, you still need to check carefully. The ownership of some land (particularly in the north of the island) is still disputed, and even in the south you will find some of the smaller developers who have lodged the title deeds to the land with their banks as collateral.
Since expatriate purchase of property on the island is so popular, one other important aspect to bear in mind is how you would intend to use your purchase. Many developments – or isolated village property – seem great in the summer when everyone is around. But if you’ve bought into a mainly expatriate-owned development, you’re likely to find you’re the only ones in residence in winter, giving the place a whole new (and lonely) aspect at that time of year!