Information on how to go about finding the right plot for your project...
Much of the available land is in private hands, usually owned by one or several members of the same family.
Estate Agents may be able to provide you with details of land for sale and the local newspapers sometimes contain advertisements for land. If you use an estate agent make sure the company is registered with the Cyprus Real Estate Agents Association.
In Cyprus, the majority of local people do not use estate agents or advertise in newspapers. Most land is sold through word-of-mouth and so the direct approach is by far the best way of finding out what's available in the area.
Visit the area in which you are interested and ask the local residents if they know of any land for sale. You can ask at the Community Office, the coffee shop, the local supermarket and drive around the area keeping an eye out for roughly made "For Sale" (ΠΩΛΟΥΝΤΑΙ or Πωλούνται) signs and noting down telephone numbers.
It is important that you check who owns the land and that the person trying to sell it actually owns it. If, for example, you are buying a share in a plot, all the owners have to agree to see it to you. (The names of the owners are shown on the land's Title Deed – see below).
When viewing land, be certain that the land you are shown is the land being sold. Ask the vendor for a copy of the Title Deed and the Lands' Office Site Plan and:
- Check that the sheet/plan/plot/references shown on the Title Deed agree with those on the Site Plan.
- Look at the Site Plan and from its boundaries, shape and location, look around you and identify roads, buildings, and other features shown on the Site Plan.
If the vendor is unable or unwilling to provide you with a copy of the Title Deed or the Lands' Office Site Plan, find yourself another piece of land. Amongst other pieces of information, the Title Deed will show the area of the land and the planning zone in which it's located.
Having found a piece of land you wish to buy, instruct your lawyer to carry out a land and title search. The land search will identify the size and scope of any dwelling you are allowed to build, while the title search will identify whether the land is subject to the rights of others, such as a right of way over the land. A title search will also uncover any 'encumbrances or prohibitions' (liens or charges) against the land such as a mortgage and other charges known as 'memos' for unpaid debts.
Note: You will be unable own the property until the present owner has cleared outstanding debts. However, in the case of a mortgage you may pay the mortgagee (the financial institution that loaned the money) to clear the mortgage, giving the balance of the agreed sale price to the vendor.
For obvious reasons, buying land or property in Cyprus that is 'encumbered' by a mortgage or any other claim is not recommended; you may end up with nothing.
For planning purposes, Cyprus is divided into various planning zones: residential, agricultural, animal rearing, industrial, green belt and touristic. Each of these zones has planning restrictions (e.g. you would not be allowed to build a pig farm in a residential zone). And even within the same zone different restrictions will apply regarding how many floors you can build, the relative size of the footprint of the property and the total 'covered area' of the property expressed as a percentage of the area of the plot.
There are many areas of Cyprus where the land is unsuitable for building. Some areas are subject to landslip and there may be a seasonal stream running through the land. A civil engineer's survey will highlight any problems and will be able to confirm that you will be able to build what you want to build.
Access and utilities
If you plan to purchase a building plot (οικόπεδο) it will come complete with an access road, water and electricity. But if you buy other land that is not connected to electricity, telephone and water, it may prove extremely costly to bring these amenities to site - and it may take years to complete the work.
Buying land without access can also prove problematic and may prevent you from making full use of it. You may apply for a right of way over adjacent plots, but you will need to compensate their owners. Note that is the length of the right of way between the plot and a public road exceeds 180 metres and the right of way is less than 3.65 metres, a permit to build a house will almost certainly be refused.
Once you are satisfied that the land has a "clean" title (i.e. there are no outstanding claims against it) and you have negotiated an acceptable price and payment terms with the vendor(s), your lawyer draws up a contract of sale. As there is no "contract cooling off" period in Cyprus, once you and the vendor(s) have signed the contract, you are committed to buy.
Within two months of signing the contract, your lawyer must deposit it at the local District Lands' Office for what is known as "specific performance". This protects your rights as a buyer by creating an encumbrance against the land that prevents its current owner selling the land to someone else, using it as collateral against a loan, etc.
The final stage of your purchase is conveyancing title to your name. This is the day when you finally become the owner of a plot of land in Cyprus and time for celebration!
The conveyancing process is carried out by the District Lands' Office. You need to complete the appropriate form and attend the District Lands Office with the vendor who has to provide receipts confirming payment of all fees, charges and taxes payable for the land being transferred. Both parties are required to produce their identity card or other documents confirming their identity (such as a passport). Non-EU citizens are required to produce a certified copy of the Council of Ministers' permission to acquire the property.
Property Transfer Fees are payable at the time of conveyancing. The fee scale varies from time to time; your lawyer will be able to advise you accordingly.
The District Lands' Office issues a new Registration Certificate (Title Deed) bearing the name of the new owners. This may take a month or two to arrive.