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The Cyprus Title Deeds Issue... Are you safe or not?

If you've been reading about property in Cyprus, title deeds will have come up repeatedly. And while estate agents claim you're safe, consumer associations tell you you're not. But which is it?

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The Cypriot Land Registry Office is hopelessly overloaded, and can sometimes take five or six years after a property is completed before issuing its title deeds. What's more, the Republic's property laws suffer from a serious loophole, which was exploited by a handful of unscrupulous property developers during the height of the property boom between 2004 and 2008.

It is perhaps a stroke of supreme irony that buying a property in Cyprus really is as safe as most overseas estate agencies make it out to be, just so long as the buyer is aware of one simple fact:

In the Republic of Cyprus, your lawyer is not legally obligated to conduct a search of the Land Registry Office's records to ascertain whether or not the property you're buying is already encumbered by a mortgage.

And though this legal omission may at first seem to border on gross negligence, it doesn't. Mortgages were practically unheard of in Cyprus prior to the property boom's start in 2000, so there originally was no need for lawyers to run any such checks with the Land Registry office of Cyprus. Title Deeds were always available, even if a few years late.

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But all that changed with the introduction of mortgages to fund property purchases

Suddenly, a property developer could use his or her land as collateral to finance the construction of more properties. And because buyers were now flocking to the island in droves, and the Land Registry was subject to a huge backlog, a handful of developers began to exploit the situation for their own enrichment.

And, while the Cypriot property market was booming this practice went largely unnoticed, as the unethically obtained mortgages were invariably cleared through the sale of further properties by the time the original title deeds were ready for issue to their respective owners.

When the global economy collapsed back in 2008, however, the continuing stream of buyers which had been fuelling these shady mortgage schemes ceased practically overnight, leaving the developers high and dry, and local lenders clamoring for their money. And though the number of developers using this practice was relatively small, the situation left in its wake a large number of British homeowners who suddenly found their properties encumbered by mortgages they knew nothing about all across Cyprus. Title deeds, of course, would not be issued so long as these loans were still uncleared, as the properties now effectively belonged to the banks.

So what's the answer? And where do you stand nowadays?

After the practice came to light back in 2008, things changed somewhat, and Cypriot lenders are now far more prone to asking awkward questions prior to handing out mortgages to construction companies. This, coupled with the fact that there simply aren't as many buyers streaming to Cyprus these days, has made the selling of mortgage encumbered homes pratically extinct. Additionally, there's one simple fact which you, the buyer, need to be aware of in order to ensure that your property purchase in Cyprus is a safe one, and that title deeds will be available when the time comes.

In the Republic of Cyprus, your lawyer is legally obligated to conduct a search of the Land Registry Office's records to ascertain whether or not the property you're buying is already encumbered by a mortgage... just so long as you ask him or her to do it.

It's also worth mentioning in closing that all lawyers recommended by Aphrodite since 2004 have always carried out Land Registry Record searches as standard. With us, you're safe in the knowledge that the home you buy actually ends up belonging to you.

We don't just want to sell you a property.
We make sure you're safe, satisfied and informed.

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Where to buy?

Although it is only comparatively small, Cyprus is an island of contrasts. From bustling east coast resorts like Protaras, via primarily British enclaves such as Oroklini village near Larnaca, and on to villages which have retained more of their traditional Cypriot character, like Argaka on the northern coast, buyers are confronted with a choice of locations which truly suits all needs and requirements.
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Disclaimer. Please note that the information given on this website is displayed for guidance purposes only. It does not replace the need for legal advice by a qualified professional. E&OE

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