Pitfalls to Avoid When Viewing Property for Sale in Northern Cyprus

Buying an overseas property on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Cyprus is a dream for many. There is growing interest in the northern side of the island, which is recognised either as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or as Northern Cyprus, respectively.

 However, foreign national buyers looking to purchase a holiday home, rental investment, second residence or permanent overseas home are well advised to seek advice and support from a reputable, trusted and experienced real estate expert to avoid common issues or risks that could stall their plans or leave them out of pocket.

Property Turkey, the specialists in property acquisition, has years of expertise supporting expats and international buyers, and has collated the information in this guide to highlight frequent problems and help ensure your transaction is smooth, stress-free and successful. 

Common Issues Affecting Foreign National Property Buyers in Northern Cyprus 

Over the years, we have spoken with countless buyers, couples, and families who have made misjudgements or errors, often due to relying on unethical advisers or assuming that the property purchase process in another country works the same way as at home. 

In the worst cases, we’ve dealt with problems such as: 

  •   Paying a deposit or balance, without having received the title deeds.
  •   Buying from an unauthorized or black market seller – with ongoing legal and cost ramifications.
  •   Losing a deposit without knowing the condition of the purchase.
  •   Proceeding with no written contract to verify the credibility and responsibilities of the other party.
  •   Encountering hidden costs or demand for further payments above and beyond the original value.

Fortunately, consulting with a reliable team of property experts and having dependable legal representation can eliminate any such risks. This ensures you know precisely how the transaction will proceed, can make informed decisions, and can refer to your adviser at any point for updates or advice.

 Next, we’ll highlight some of those specific issues, explain how they occur, and determine the best ways to protect your North Cyprus property purchase from such snags.

 Buying a Property in Northern Cyprus Without a Solicitor 

Regardless of where you’re buying a property or the value of the purchase, you should always ensure you have a solicitor, lawyer or other legal representative who is properly qualified, accredited and reliable. Foreign buyers who assume they do not need a solicitor and can go ahead and sign purchase contracts very often fail to identify problematic clauses or agree to vague or unclear terms. 

Even if you’re buying directly through a developer, you must have a property expert review the terms, especially since the seller’s ‘free’ representation as part of the deal likely means their priority will be supporting the other party’s interests. 

An independent solicitor or lawyer will analyze contracts before you sign, run all the necessary searches and background checks, and advise if there are any terms or conditions they feel need to be addressed or amended before you move forward. 

Likewise, a legal professional will determine whether there are any disputes over property ownership, often related to divorce proceedings, that could jeopardize your transaction or expose you to lengthy delays and additional costs. 

Purchasing Real Estate Without Total Price Transparency 

We all recognise that buying a home comes with extra charges alongside the cost of the property itself, such as: 

  •   Estate agent fees
  •   Legal charges
  •   Taxes and VAT
  •   Moving costs

However, it is more common than you might think for buyers to forget about these additional costs when planning an overseas purchase, only to find that they have not budgeted for commissions, VAT, property taxes or charges that extend beyond their budget. 

Developers and some agents may need to clearly disclose their commissions or fees or may assume buyers have conducted due diligence and consulted a solicitor and know whether they are liable to pay VAT or stamp duty on a new or resale property. 

As always, a skilled agent will ensure you have full control over your purchase costs and can clarify how taxes will apply to your property acquisition. 

Contractual Problems With North Cyprus Property Purchases 

There are several possible issues buyers may run into around contracts, deposit payments and the terms of the transaction, including the following: 

  •   Paying a reservation fee to a developer without having the terms confirmed in writing to confirm the amount paid, the total agreed purchase price, and the scenarios in which they are entitled to a refund.
  •   Signing a legally binding sales contract without having an agent or solicitor review the terms or relying on the developer, seller, or their agent to have completed all official checks through the Land Registry.
  •   Making any informal agreements or making payments without a receipt – which may mean there is no log of amounts paid, and no documentation to back up any promises or assurances provided by the seller, such as agreeing to repair damage or rectify an issue with the property before the change in ownership.

Some international buyers also follow all the right steps and seek the necessary advice but don’t recognise the importance of submitting the final contract of sale to the Land Registry—a legal requirement for all real estate purchases.

A buyer could possibly lose their legal right to the property or land they have purchased if they don’t file their documentation within a maximum timeframe or could be exposed to late filing penalties.

Proceeding With a North Cyprus Property Purchase Without Discussing Ongoing Costs

Finally, it is essential that you know what costs, service charges, or expenses are associated with the property you are buying over the long term, not only the costs of buying the real estate and paying the costs associated with the transaction.

A large proportion of apartments, villas, and homes with gated or private communities are subject to property management charges, which cover things like access to communal pools, upkeep of the exterior of the property, security services, and other shared resources like underground parking, lifts, and lobbies.

Being clear about all the terms of ownership, budgeting for the ongoing costs of the property, and understanding the conditions linked to services charges or property management fees is just as essential as negotiating and documenting the agreed purchase price.

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