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Top 5 legal tips for property buyers

BUYING a property in Cyprus can be a daunting experience, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the system here.

You need to find a lawyer you can trust, who will act for you independently and make sure that your position is fully protected… the problem is – how do you know if your lawyer is acting in your best interests?

My top five points below should give you a good idea of whether your lawyer is on the right tracks.

These are the top five points I believe your lawyer should follow:

Tip 1 – Check that you can buy this property!

There are still certain restrictions on the number of properties you can transfer into your name in Cyprus in certain situations. In short, as an EU citizen you can buy any amount of land/property in Cyprus if you are permanently resident in Cyprus. If you are not permanently resident here – you can buy any number of fields/plots and the title deed to one house/flat. A non-EU citizen can only buy one apartment, which is under construction or built on an area not exceeding 4,014 sqm.

All restrictions are due to be lifted by 1 May 2009 for EU nationals, but consideration still needs to be given to your position until they are lifted. It is potentially disastrous to sign contracts to buy property which you cannot have transferred into your name.

Tip 2 – Get a Fixed Quotation

Legal fees are often linked to the price of the property you are purchasing in Cyprus. In addition to fees, the lawyer will charge you disbursements (in other words out of pocket expenses incurred on your behalf). You will also need to pay for the contracts to be stamped and (when you transfer the title into your name) you will need to pay transfer fees.

You need to know the cost of all of these steps from the start so that you can budget your purchase effectively and your lawyer should give you this information.

Tip 3 – Check the Title

This is a crucial step! An encumbrances search at the Land Registry will confirm that the person selling the property to you is actually the owner and will reveal if any other contract of sale has already been deposited at the Land Registry.

Any encumbrance (for example a mortgage) will also be revealed – and this information is needed in order to prepare an appropriate contract.

Tip 4 – Check the developer is not on the verge of bankruptcy!

The financial standing of the developer is important to ascertain, in order to ensure that the company is secure and should not encounter any financial difficulties during the construction of the property.

Your lawyer should check this at the Companies Registry before you sign a contract.

Tip 5 – Get copies of Planning Permission and Building Authority Licenses

If you are buying a new or recently built property, you will need to be sure that planning permission and building authority licenses have been complied with fully.

If there are any problems with non-compliance this could prevent you from transferring the title into your name in the future!

Of course, there are many steps involved in buying a property in Cyprus and each individual case is different. However – you should check that as a minimum your lawyer carries out each of the above steps.

By Louise Zambartas LLB (Hons) Law

Louise is a dual qualified practising English Solicitor and Cyprus Advocate and has established The Law Offices of Louise Zambartas; she lives and works in Limassol. I am grateful to Louise for allowing me to publish her article; I urge all Cyprus property buyers to follow her sound advice.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be publishing more hints and tips by Louise. In the next one, she’ll be giving us her top legal tips on clauses to be contained in your contract of sale.

The Law Office of Louise Zambartas is a specialist team of Cyprus Property Lawyers comprising English Solicitors and Cyprus Barristers dedicated to dealing with conveyancing in Cyprus and associated legal work.

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