Buying a Property in Cyprus

Especially in these times of uncertain property values in Britain, more and more people are considering buying overseas as a sensible option. Homes abroad are usually looked at by most people as some kind of luxury, but as an investment they can often produce high financial returns and whether it is for an investment, a holiday home or a residence for retirement, buying abroad today looks like a better financial proposition than it does in the UK. The Mediterranean region has long been a favourite for UK buyers and whilst Spain was ‘top of the pile’ for many years, substantial numbers of buyers have been looking further afield. For many reasons, Cyprus property is attracting much attention. Not least, due to its excellent value.

The history of Cyprus is long and fascinating, but in modern times was a mixed community of Greek and Turkish Cypriots living under a joint government. To simplify a very complex situation, following a military coup by a hard-line Greek faction in 1974, troops from the Turkish mainland took over part of the island to safeguard the Turkish Cypriot population. The island was effectively split into two, with the Turkish Cypriot community occupying the north, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (or TRNC) and the Greek Cypriots the south. A formal border, known as ‘the green line’ was drawn up and patrolled by the United Nations. Until recently, only the south was internationally recognised as an independent country, but following the accession of the south into the EC, many informal connections have been made. Today there are consular representatives in north Cyprus from countries including Great Britain and there are now many established border points where EC passport holders (as well as Cypriot nationals) can cross freely.

The resulting situation regarding property has some twists and it is essential to know all the facts before considering the purchase of any Cyprus villas, or indeed any Cyprus holiday homes. In the division of 1974, many Turkish Cypriots lost property or land in the south of the island, and many Greek Cypriots suffered similar losses in the north. The political situation in Cyprus is completely stable, but there have been a number of efforts to finalise the issue, by far and away the most comprehensive of which is the ‘Annan Plan’. This United Nations proposal was voted on in referenda held in both sides of the island, though whilst the Turkish Cypriot community was in favour, Greek Cypriots rejected the agreement.

North Cyprus property falls into a number of types. ‘Turkish title’ or ‘foreign title’ land is, as the names suggest, land owned prior to the division of Cyprus by anyone other than a Greek Cypriot. Such land is rarely available on the market and carries a price premium. ‘Esdeger property’ is also known as ‘exchange property’. Turkish Cypriots who lost property in the south of the island in 1974 were granted title to Greek Cypriot land in the north and under every proposal yet made, this land would retain its current title status. The majority of north Cyprus properties fall into this category. ‘Tahsis property’ was land or housing given to settlers from the Turkish mainland or in recognition of military or government service. This land is considered to have safe title, but some people have suggested it might be subject to some compensation payment in the event of a complete political settlement. There are also a few properties held on government granted leases, but these are unlikely to be available on the normal market from any North Cyprus estate agents.

So, is north Cyprus property a sensible option? Well, financially it looks like a good option and although the massive boom in prices has now stabilised, you will be pleasantly surprised at just how much your pound buys in terms of housing. North Cyprus rentals are also rising and there is plenty of choice around. If you are looking at retirement, or long-term occupancy, renting for a year or so is a good way to get a feel for the island and some local knowledge. Construction standards are generally good, though as with all Mediterranean countries, the methods of building and use of materials can be vastly different to the UK. A competent surveyor or builder will be able to give advice and (as with buying any property in any country) an established lawyer is essential.

There are many Cyprus estate agents and many Cyprus property developers and the choice may seem daunting. A bit of research goes a long way, but then so does your money here! There may never be a better time.

Leave a Reply