For over 10,000 years, Cyprus has seen civilizations come and go. The likes of everyone from Alexander the Great to Cleopatra have staked their claim but it’s the British property investor who is leading the latest invasion. An estimated 60,000 Britons own a second home on the island, attracted by a standard of living comparable to the UK but bettered by 300-odd days of sunshine a year.
Aphrodite made her home on Cyprus, and travellers throughout antiquity came here just to pay her tribute. Today Cyprus is a modern country, effortlessly marrying European culture with ancient enchantment. It offers alluring beaches and fragrant mountain peaks, vineyards studded with olive trees and ancient ruins, as well as citrus groves and old stone.
This juxtaposition of cultures and beliefs, of seascapes and rural retreats makes it the fifth most popular foreign destination for UK residents. Although property prices have risen around 20% year on year, the 2008 accession to the EU promises to open up the previously ironclad buy to let market for foreign investors.
Having already secured its place in the nation’s sunshine loving heart, anyone considering investing in property in Northern Cyprus would be well advised to consider buying to let and watching their investment grow accordingly. The relatively low cost of living in Cyprus is an unequivocal point in favour of the continuing British love affair and correspondingly strong rental yields. Recent statistics pointed to Cyprus as being one of the most inexpensive countries in Europe, fuelling a better quality of life and marking the Mediterranean hot spot as an all year round holiday favourite.
New builds abound in northern Cyprus with two bedroom properties the most advisable for the rental market. Look out for well appointed apartments close to amenities and with pool and parking to maximise short and long term let potential.
The Oroklini Village Apartments are well suited to the holiday market, with sea and country views and just a two minute walk from the bustling village square. Prices start at 54,000 CYP. The three blocks each have use of the communal swimming pool and adjoining children’s pool, with interiors fitted with air conditioning, ceramic tiles and double glazing.
At the other end of the rental market, the Poseidon luxury villa complex consists of two and three bedroom, luxury detached villas. Each villa has its own spacious garden and private pool, pushing up the rental potential.
Foreign investors in Cyprus benefit from a well developed, modern and efficient banking system. The financial institutions often offer investors good mortgage packages although permission to purchase a property must first be obtained from the Council of Ministers by written application.
The non-Cypriot purchaser must submit this after the agreement has been signed. However, the permission is granted more or less as a matter of course to all bona fide buyers. In the meantime purchasers may take possession of their property without restriction. By law, a non-Cypriot in Cyprus is not required to hold a permanent residence permit, but they are easy to obtain once certain requirements are fulfilled.
The legal fees usually charged by a lawyer are approximately CYP 500 and cover the admin costs of the Sale Agreement and General Agreement. Stamp duty is due at the time of signing the contract. This is levied at the rate of CYP 1.50 per CYP 1,000 up to CYP 100,000 and thereafter at the rate of CYP 2 per CYP 1,000. The purchase contract must be stamped within 30 days of its dated signature or a fine will be imposed.
Transfer of ownership from vendor to purchaser is accomplished by a simple procedure through the land registry office. The contract of sale must be in writing, and it is advisable that such contracts be registered at the District Land Registry Office within 60 days from the contract date. When issued, the title deed will be registered in the name of the buyer and will be recorded in the government archives – these are confidential and will not be published or made accessible under any circumstances.
The transfer of the title can be effective once the Council of Ministers’ permission is obtained along with confirmation of receipt of the foreign funds. Upon transfer and registration in the purchasers name the district Land Registry Office will charge transfer fees which are based on the market value of the property at the time of purchase, as follows: Value up to CYP £50,000 – 3%, value of CYP£ 50,001 – CYP 100,000 – 5% and value of CYP£ 100,000+ – 8%.