Buy an apartment

There is no difficulty in finding apartments to buy in any of the towns and developed villages in Cyprus. Land development into apartments is very common and there is an abundance available for sale at any time all over Cyprus, the vast majority being very new. There is also a tendency to sell apartments "on paper", (i.e. when construction plans are still on the drawing board), or during construction, as a means of raising part of the finance for the project. Cyprus Apartment prices are not uniform. They vary to a great extent with the location, the facilities provided, the quality of the project and the town/district where they are situated.

Apartment resales have a sales price of approximately 20%- 25% less than new units, depending on the individual property's specific characteristics (age, state of repair etc). Price per square meter refers to gross area plus covered verandas plus portion of the floor's common area (usually 10% of the apartment's gross area where applicable). It is usual for developers to give credit terms of payment when selling these flats.

Terms vary from developer to developer (but not for resales), but commonly these are as follows:

• On signing the sales agreement - 1/3 of the total sales price.
• During construction – 2/3 of the total.

If the unit is ready the vendor will most likely require at least 75% payable within a short period and the remaining in 12 months maximum. In most cases, however on most occasions, the vendor will require a cash payment and the purchaser secures a bank loan with repayment facilities.

1. Location: In any particular area there are many blocks of apartments under construction. Try to shop around and choose a block in a good area. Of course what a "good" area is, is relative and depends on various factors including personal judgment and taste. It is widely accepted, however, that a "good" area is one which is relatively central, not densely developed with apartments, more of a residential area, relatively quite (not on main road) and one which is close to schools and shops. Although the better the area the higher the price, an extra sacrifice, at this initial stage may prove worthwhile in the future. If you have children, pay particular attention to the proximity of public open spaces, such as parks, since you will find that children will need some space to play.

2. The Block: Try to choose a small block of apartments. A five storey building accommodating a maximum of 15 -20 units is ideal. Larger blocks have problems primarily related to their management and lack of privacy. Bear in mind, however, that smaller blocks have a higher common service bill. Try to avoid buying an apartment on a block with shops on their ground floor, since these are usually the cause of nuisance.

3. Ask, before buying, who has purchased the shops (if any) and ascertain whether any restrictions have been imposed on their use. You may find out, for example, that the shops below will be used as a Kebab House or as a Bar (causing you a lot of hardship). If you have to buy an apartment in a block with shops on the ground floor, avoid buying the flat just above the shops. The further away (the higher up), the better.

4. Accommodation: Avoid purchasing a studio type of accommodation (unless you are in a resort area) since you will have problems on resale. Prefer to get rented accommodation rather than buy, if you are thinking to sell your one bedroom/studio unit and buy a larger one in the future. You may well find that selling the studio is difficult. Apartments with the higher demand are the average size three bedroom units (around 120-130m²) and the two bedroom (85-100m²) one. The sq.mts. given include external wall and all covered areas including covered verandahs, including a portion of the floors’ common area. However, this state of affairs is flue and changes from time to time and from location to location. In resort areas the most marketable accommodation are the compact two and one bedroom apartments, especially for renting purposes.

5. Services: Experience has proved that it is difficult for co-owners to agree on the common servicing of the blocks. It is therefore advisable, especially if you are buying in a large block, to prefer to buy where the block has the lowest common service bill. Common central heating has proved to be a major problem and the cause of many disputes amongst co-owners. Avoid also apartments which have common hot water facilities.

6. Prices are usually quoted as Euros per square meter (it includes the analogy of common areas and covered verandahs.) The extends given are based on external dimensions. It is important, however, to ascertain which area in square meters you are paying for. Most developers include part of the common areas (staircases, lifts etc) while others include the verandas and so on. If therefore, you are shopping around for the right price, make sure that you are comparing the same area. Our advice is to take the gross area of the unit (including part of the floors common areas, usually 10% of the unit extend), including covered verandas, in external dimensions. Where there are uncovered verandahs take 50% of their area. This will provide you with a good common basis for comparison of the price per square meter. Another factor also affecting the price is the payment terms.

7. Quality: In all advertisements for the sale of apartments you may find the word "luxury". What is luxurious accommodation may be distant from what you have in mind. If the flat you are buying is still under construction, have your property surveyor go through the specifications of the materials and finishes so that he can explain their meaning to you.

The quality of construction is another issue. If the unit is not built, normally the developer's reputation and a visit to a previous project will give you an idea of what you can expect. Show a preference to blocks utilizing low maintenance materials; sprits finish to a block, as opposed to decoration is an advantage; the use of timber as opposed to plastic/ aluminum ones is a disadvantage; a poor quality lift will cause you major future difficulties etc. If under construction use an independent civil engineer to check the specifications and what it is built. Check also which management agreement is in place and at what terms. Make sure before purchase that the previous owner has paid all common expenses, electricity & telephone bills.

8. Common Expenses: People in Cyprus do not show particular discipline for the payment of common expenses. So check your sales contract and ascertain who will manage the common expenses and ensure the smooth running of the building. Common expenses are charged usually at cost plus “something” for the coordinator and are apportioned based on the covered area of the unit in analogy. Common charges vary depending on the facilities provided but for residential areas, they are on average approximately €70 per month. (2-3 bedrooms).

9. Sales Prices: Average quality apartments have a sale price in the range of €2000/sq.meter. in residential areas and in the touristic areas €2.500/sq.meter (new properties). Beach properties cost around €5.000/sq.meter. depending on location/town etc. New properties i.e. just completed or under construction have a V.A.T. 19% addition. Second hand apartments have a sales price at 20% - 25% less than the new units [depending on the state of repair etc.]. Second hand apartments do not have VAT