Getting started: buying property in Northern Cyprus

Northern Cyprus property prices are currently about half that of the South, but this may not last as this unspoiled corner of the Mediterranean is finally beginning to attract the attention of British investors. In the past the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’s position as a pariah state has kept both tourists and potential home buyers away, but the accession of the island to the EU on May 1st 2004 looks likely to open the region up. In the last five years, two thousand foreigners have bought property in Northern Cyprus, and while this is a fraction of sales in the South; demand looks set to soar.

However, anyone thinking of buying property in the North should be aware that there are a number of factors which could complicate matters. The most obvious potential pitfall is the legacy of the 1974 conflict. The occupation of the region by Turkish troops forced many Greek Cypriots to abandon their land and homes. Any forthcoming political settlement will have to deal with issues of compensation and/or return of property, which means that you could loose your home. Another factor worth considering is that the North’s somewhat Byzantine property laws may lengthen the buying process considerably.

There are a number of different types of title deed in the TRNC and it’s important to know which category your potential purchase falls into. Freehold properties are classified as either Foreign or Turkish Title and can be bought with few complications (after approval from the Council of Ministers). Things generally get more complicated with Leasehold Titles previously owned by Greek Cypriots as you’ll need additional rubberstamps from the Ministry of Tourism.

The safest bet for would be buyers is to track down a property owned by Turks prior to 1974. However these are few and far between and a more workable solution could be to stick with property given to Turkish Cypriots as compensation for ‘equivalent’ property abandoned in the south. If you are purchasing a recently constructed villa (or building one yourself) then the same considerations apply to the land it’s sited on.

Once you have had an offer accepted you will need to draw up a contract agreeing the price, timescale and any special conditions. Then it’s a matter of paying a deposit and applying for a purchase permit from the appropriate authority (either the Council of Ministers of the Ministry of Tourism). Then it’s simply a matter of settling the remaining balance, transferring the title deeds and moving in. Theoretically this process should take three to six months, but you’ll have to keep a watchful eye.