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Buying Property in Nicosia, Cyprus – What You Need to Know

Nicosia has been the capital of Cyprus since the 10th Century. The heart of the city is surrounded by 16th Century Venetian walls and it is full of churches, museums and medieval buildings that link to the past and make Nicosia feel very nostalgic indeed.

The Famagusta Gate, which has been restored, was one of the original entrances to the old city; most of the old churches are to be found in this part of Nicosia. With its narrow streets and old houses made from beautiful sandstone, in Nicosia, you will often come across many craftsmen practising trades that have remained unchanged for centuries. Another must see is the Cyprus Museum, which is home to Cyprus’ most important collection of antiquities and treasures from the Neolithic and Roman periods.

In this article, let us take a closer look at the Nicosia property market, which you might consider as your next property investment destination in Europe.

The Property Market in Nicosia

The Nicosia property market is arguably the best performing of all the regions in Cyprus and reflects the continued popularity of the capital of Cyprus when it comes to investing in property. It is the centre of Cyprus political and commercial operations and is where most government departments have their offices.

Who buys property in Nicosia? Broadly speaking the type of person looking to buy a property in Nicosia fall in to the three categories, local Cypriots looking for a new residence, foreign buyers looking for an apartment of house to relocate to and thirdly investors who over the years have learnt that the healthy rental market in Nicosia provides good long term growth as well as enviable rental yields, which are helped in no small way by the fact that property in Nicosia attracts all year round rental and not just season/holiday rentals.

Like any major city, there is a huge choice of suburbs and areas to search for a property in Nicosia and like any city the price of a property will depend on the location. Some of the most popular locations that buyers look at are Strovolos (close to the renowned Junior School), Anglazia, Latsia which although slightly out of town is extremely popular with people looking to live away from the hustle and bustle of Nicosia, and Plati Aglantzias for many years has been one of the most sought after suburbs for Cypriots.

Nicosia is served by a good motorway making it easy for residence to reach the coast at the weekends with Larnaca and its stunning beaches only 30 minutes drive away.

The city has received a boost to the property market with Cyprus with inclusion into the EU. Also of great benefit is the recent opening of the border at Ledra Street in Nicosia, thus giving easy access for people who want to travel to the north of Cyprus.

Education in Nicosia

If you are moving to live in Nicosia and you have children of school age you will undoubtedly want to find an international school close to your house unless your children already speak fluent Greek. Fortunately, there are around nine very good international school options for parents of children in Nicosia.

Primary / Secondary Schools

One of the best on the island is the English School in Nicosia, which was founded in 1900 by Canon Frank Dervall Newham and is regarded by many as the leading private English speaking school in Cyprus; as you would expect, the entrance criteria is quite rigid. The fees for 2008-2009 are around €5700 per annum.

Another private school, which has received a very favourable OFSTED report, is Highgate School which follows the British influenced international GCSE and A level curricula; currently its fees range from €3100 at the start of the Primary school, up to €6300 in year 13.

Here are some more primary/secondary schools in Nicosia:

  • The American Academy in Nicosia
  • Falcon School
  • The Grammar and Junior Schools

University

The University of Cyprus was established in Nicosia in 1989 and admitted its first students in 1992. Despite its brief history, the University of Cyprus has earned the respect of the international academic community and the appreciation of Cypriot society.

Admission for the majority of undergraduate students is by entrance examinations organized by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the competition for places is approximately 10 to 1. A number of places are reserved for students with special needs or circumstances. Every effort is made to offer practical solutions to students facing specific problems, be it access to University facilities, or assistance on academic issues.

The Legal Issues

Buying a property in Nicosia gives you the opportunity to abandon ship in the UK and relocate to a sunnier, warmer, more relaxed environment in Cyprus. Purchasing a new home in Cyprus is relatively easy; a non-Cypriot can buy for their own personal use either an apartment, a house, a villa or a piece of land, and the maximum allowed area for purchase is 4,013 sq.m, although in certain circumstances this can be exceeded.

Certainly, a look at the current financial situation around the world makes many people already in Cyprus believe that the best investment is in real estate. Cyprus has always been an attractive place to live, work, conduct business, invest or have holidays. Being an island in the Mediterranean, with good climate conditions, proper services, low criminality, a country member of the European Union, low taxation, it offers financial stability and many other potentials including real estate.

However, there are still many things that you should do before buying your own property in Nicosia, or anywhere else in Cyprus.

Here are 5 important points that you should consider before making the jump.

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 sq.m. 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.

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.

3. Check the title

This is a crucial step! An encumbrances search at the Cyprus 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.

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.

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.

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