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Getting things right in Cyprus

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Much of our work over in Cyprus involves helping clients who bought property with Swiss Franc mortgages so it’s good to remember what inspired them to buy there in the first place and why it still represents a great location today.

20,000 of us Brits now call Cyprus home and over a million of us visit the Mediterranean island each year- so what’s the big pull?

Well with our climate at home, the weather is always a huge factor for us and being geographically placed in the Middle East it has hot summers and a very long holiday season.

There are 400 miles of stunning coastline offering up no less than 49 ‘Blue Flag’ beaches and some world-renowned diving. But for those who think there’s more to life than just frying yourself on some sand there’s also a rich and ancient history to discover dating back to around 10,000 BC.

Visitors from around the world flock to the birth place of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and tie what looks like plastic bags around bushes which I’m sceptical whether it would get her approval today but if I told you it was also the birthplace of halloumi you’re back on board right?

Hill views in Cyprus

On a recent work trip there I did wonder whether it was almost too convenient for British visitors with 2 international airports receiving flights from the UK in under 4.5 hours and once the passengers have arrived they can jump in a right hand drive hire car, driving on the left to their hotel and charge all their gadgets with a good old British plug.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you could even buy Marmite in the local shops.

In regards to property, the market took a bit of a hammering when the GFC hit and whilst over the past year or so prices have risen slowly, there are over 10,000 homes for sale on the island, so it’s still a buyers market.

If purchasing a holiday home, resale properties generally offer the best value for money, partly as since Cyprus’ EU accession in 2004, a standard VAT rate of 19% was required to be paid when buying a new property.

However, for those looking for a permanent move, following a recent VAT Amendment Law, a reduced rate, starting from 5%, is applicable for the acquisition of new residential properties. Now there are various conditions to meet which is why its so important to have a lawyer onboard prior to viewing a house, so they can tell you what level of VAT you’ll be paying as these substantial figures could literally blow your budget, or be an unwelcome surprise further down the road.

Some recent clients of ours had fallen for all the charms of the island and had eventually settled on a resale property.

After quite a bit of argy bargee they had their offer accepted on a town house that looked like a great deal. They immediately instructed Judicare to act for them as their lawyers and set about arranging for a local surveyor to carry out a full survey.

Their prudence immediately paid off.

As lawyers we were able to act as intermediaries and withstand any pressure the selling agent tried to apply whilst we also kept the deal alive, allowing our clients the valuable time to get the survey back. When it landed the report pointed out a substantial issue with subsidence, which led to further more negotiations.

Unfortunately both parties were unable to agree a price taking the necessary remedial works into account and so (sensibly in my opinion) our client walked away.

Now some might moan that they’d wasted money on a survey and professional fees and had nothing to show for it. Not so. The money spent on fees ultimately saved them a far larger figure further down the road.

By instructing us as independent lawyers instead of using a firm proposed by the selling agent, meant that they weren’t tied into the deal at an early stage and they didn’t have to forego any deposit.

The great news for our client is that they then found another property in an area they preferred and have already enjoyed their first holiday there thanks again to obtaining some professional expert help.

In my opinion, this isn’t serendipity; this is just a sensible client taking a sensible approach to buying foreign property.

Jonnie Irwin signature