With plenty of sun, regular flights and some reassuringly familiar British practices, this large island remains a firm favourite.
Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean, is at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, with an equally appealing blend of ancient history and modern tourism.
And when the summer party ends on the Spanish costas, it continues in Cyprus, basking in sun and temperatures that often reach 20ºC even in the depths of winter.
Decades of British rule have also left an instantly recognisable legacy: the legal system, the scarlet post boxes, driving on the left, and a great warmth towards UK visitors.
The feeling is mutual; we make more than 1 million vacation visits to Cyprus each year, attracted by its low crime rate and clean beaches. Around 65,000 British people live there permanently and 10,000 claim their pensions in Cyprus. Accessibility is also a key attraction, with many more year-round flights than other islands such as Crete and Corfu.
If suspected large gas deposits are confirmed off the south-eastern coast then it could be a great blessing for the country’s ailing economy – although, equally, a curse if it increases political volatility in the region.
Property hotspots in Cyprus
The most popular area among British buyers is Paphos, an attractive harbour, resort and Unesco World Heritage site on the south-western coast. It is home to many of the island’s cultural highlights – including a medieval fortress, frescoed tombs and mosaics – along with amenities for every need, such as its own airport with year-round easyJet flights to the UK.
Prices have generally fallen by 20-30 per cent and one-bedroom apartments go from around €70,000, two-bedroom townhouses from €150,000 and villas from €300,000.
Polis is a small, picturesque town on the north-western coast at Chrysochous Bay, bordering the Akamas peninsula, an exceptionally beautiful nature reserve. Polis has some of the best beaches on the island, in secluded bays with crystal-clear waters, and a wonderful café culture, especially at Latchi, the attractive harbour of Polis with its recently extended marina. It’s a little cheaper than Paphos, with apartments from €60,000 and villas from €250,000.
Limassol is the second largest town on Cyprus. A lively metropolis and business hub, with top-class shopping and cosmopolitan restaurants, it’s very popular with the Russian market. There are long, sandy shores, celebrations and carnivals liberally spread throughout the year, and the Troodos mountains are within easy reach. There’s even skiing there in winter, while the weather is still warm by the beach. Apartments start at €70,000, villas from €250,000.
The process of buying a property in Cyprus
Purchasing a property in Cyprus is based on English law. When a buyer finds the right property, they reserve it with a deposit of between £1,000 and £2,000. Contracts are then drawn up, outlining the conditions of the sale, and a further deposit is payable – 10 per cent for a resale property, usually 20-30 per cent for a new-build.
Once the contract of sale is signed by the buyer, their lawyer files this with the land registry within 60 days. Buyers need to present bank and character references with the application. The balance of the money is generally paid on completion for resales and in stages agreed by the developer for new-builds.
The main costs are stamp duty of 0.15 per cent for properties under €170,860 and 0.2 per cent over that; property transfer fees of 3 per cent for those under €85,430, 5 per cent between that and €170,860, and 8 per cent above that; 1-2 per cent for legal fees and agents’ fees of 3-6 per cent.
There are two main issues in Cyprus, both involving title. The first relates to the ownership of properties in northern Cyprus – held by Turkey since 1974. Prices are cheaper there, but the former Greek Cypriot owners still claim much of the property and any purchase there is risky – whatever agents tell you.
The second issue is with the slow issuance of title deeds in southern Cyprus, combined with some dubious dealings by developers there in recent years, which makes proving clean title essential. Although the authorities have made steps to expedite the whole process, the situation has historically been that it has taken years for owners to get their title deeds following purchases or new building. So some buyers are, rightly, very reluctant to buy without them.