By Antonis Loizou FRICS
AS HAS been said in the past, buying a property in Cyprus is not difficult due to the abundance of supply but for those selling an individual property the market is tougher, especially as they will have to compete against well organised developers and agents. So, if resale of the property is in your mind when buying, bear in mind the general market needs.
On-the-spot advertising is the first thing to be tried. Placing a ‘For Sale’ sign on the land/house/flat is the best form of advertising, some people, however, feel embarrassed to do this, whereas others do not want the hassle of people knocking on the door at all hours.
The appointment of estate agents (avoid exclusivity) is recommended. The commission payable is normally 3% (Nicosia) and 5% in the seaside towns on the sale price, although there are agents, mainly in Paphos area, who charge 8% (note that when dealing with foreign agents, this may reach over 10%). For this reason agree on the agent’s commission beforehand. Do not accept a deal whereby the price is fixed by yourself and the agent gets the commission plus what he can obtain in excess of the fixed price (greedy agents may overprice your property and, consequently, render it unmarketable).
We suggest that you appoint a qualified valuer (contact the Cyprus Association of Surveyors for a recommendation) who will ascertain the value of your property and its sales terms. You may find that you are undervaluing or overvaluing your property, with negative results on your sales price and period of sale.
Appoint several (two to three) selling agents but check who they are (your bank manager and the Association of Surveyors may recommend reputable ones).
Bear in mind the payable taxation (if any), the exchange rate and the exportation of the sales amount etc prior to commitment.
The sale/transfer of a property’s ownership is a straightforward and simple procedure. You simply present yourself at the Lands Office counter together with the purchaser and sign a sales form. Provided there are no registered impediments and there is a clear title, the deal is concluded within the hour. Bear in mind that prior to the transfer you must have paid all outstanding property taxes on your holding and obtained a certificate of tax release from the Inland Revenue.
Bear in mind that when you sell your property you are liable to Capital Gains tax (although having in mind the various exceptions and tax relieves, this will be minimal if it is your main residence).
Do not take for granted that you will pay only capital gains. If you do this often (i.e. buy and sell) you will find that you are liable for income tax [higher tax rate].
If you are not the registered owner and you sell ‘your’ property, you need the cooperation of the original owner to cancel/assign the sales agreement or you can opt for an assignment of the original sales contacts.
To sell a property to a non EU member you need to have Council of Ministers approval. Bear in mind that you may have to pay transfer fees and if the property is not registered in your name in case of a resale.
Whatever you do when you buy/sell your property we suggest that you employ a reputable legal firm and agree on the fee beforehand.
Be prepared to answer the buyers’ questions regarding the title, financiers release, town planning and building permit, certificate of final approval etc (these items refer to non title properties).