Finding property in Cyprus

Woman with binocularsYou will not have a problem finding properties in Cyprus. There are many thousands of properties for sale and many thousands of people eager and willing.

There are many different ways of finding property for sale. The particular methods you choose will depend on the amount of time that you are willing or able to devote to your search.

The Cyprus law regarding estate agents is to say the least confusing. In 2004, the Government introduced a law designed to protect property buyers from the cowboy Real Estate agents in Cyprus. However, the enforcement of the law is very patchy and some companies manage to get around it by claiming to be 'property advertising companies', and even the EU has questioned Cyprus over some aspects of the legislation.

Finding off-plan property

If you're looking for off plan properties, development companies that target foreign buyers are very easy to find. They have advertisements at airports, on hoardings along the highway, posters, etc..

Their offices are usually situated in the tourist areas. The larger ones have Internet sites showing details of their developments and some use local estate agents and UK-based companies marketing overseas property in Cyprus to promote and sell their properties.

But be warned that as overseas property marketing companies receive as much as 15% commission on a sale, you'll actually save money if you fly to Cyprus and see what's available for yourself.

Also, some of the property developers operate a 'closed shop', whereby only they will sell properties that have been built by their company. This is a 'nice little earner' because as well as making a profit when they sell a new property, they also take a commission when someone decides to sell - and at least two developers that I know of practice a resale property scam.

Finding property through real estate agents

If you're looking for resale properties or wanting to buy land, estate agents will provide you with details of a range of properties they have on their books. A number have Internet sites where you can browse through properties they have on offer. But you need to appreciate that estate agents come in two varieties:

  • Legal estate agents who are have registered with the CREAA (Cyprus Real Estate Agents Association). These are required to carry professional indemnity insurance and operate to a defined code of conduct. (You can get a list of these from my download area).
  • Illegal, unregistered agents. Legally, these companies cannot call themselves 'Estate Agents' and so you'll see them advertised as 'property marketing companies', 'property advertisers', etc. They advertise properties for sale but do not get involved with the actual buying and selling; they merely introduce the seller to the buyer in return for an advertising and/or an introduction fee. This avoids them having to register as estate agents and few of them have insurance and other safeguards in place to protect buyers.
  • Some Real Estate Agents are members of FIABCI, the International Real Estate Federation, who members are regulated by a strict code of conduct and entry criteria.

If you're planning to use an estate agent, see my article: 'Top 8 questions to ask estate agents'.

Property middlemen

There are also property middlemen who will offer you properties for sale. Invariably, these receive a 'brown envelope' from the developer and/or the agent and are acting illegally. Unfortunately many retired Britons have jumped on the gravy train, preying on the fears (and the wallets) of their fellow countrymen.

It makes no difference whether you allow yourself to be conned by a silver-tongued expatriate 'property consultant' or an affable Cypriot property middleman; the end result will be exactly the same.

Steer well clear!

Newspaper advertisements

English language newspapers, such as the Cyprus Mail and Cyprus Weekly, carry property advertisements. Although you will find some private advertisements in the newspapers, many are placed by estate agents.

Check out the Greek press as well as the English press. You will find that prices are better and, if necessary, you may be able to find a Greek speaker to help.

Approaching the property owner directly

In Cyprus, the majority of local people do not use estate agents or advertise property in newspapers. Most Cypriot-owned property and land is sold through word-of-mouth and so the direct approach is by far the best way of finding out what's for sale in the area. If you buy directly from the owner, you will save yourself the added costs of the agent’s commission.

Visit the area in which you are interested and ask the local residents if they know what's available for sale. You can ask at the local coffee shop or Community Office, ask the mukhtar, and drive around the area keeping an eye out for roughly made For Sale (‘ΠΩΛΟΥΝΤΑΙ’ or ‘Πωλούνται’) signs and noting down telephone numbers.

You may find that some For Sale signs bear the telephone numbers of estate agents. But there is nothing to stop you from knocking on the door and speaking directly with the owner.

Property inspection flights

Some property developers and companies marketing overseas property in Cyprus offer low-cost inspection flights from the UK. Many people believe their marketing hype offering ‘excellent investment opportunities’, ‘massive capital growth’, ‘huge returns’, etc at its face value. Believe me, most of it is a load of rubbish designed to get you to part with your hard-earned cash!

If you do come over on an inspection visit, you will be given very little free time to carry out independent research and viewings.