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The property transfer matrix

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There is an increasing rate of title deeds being issued, albeit, with some delay of 4-7 years or more after completion, the titles are being issued.

Although a positive development, this has created an increasing number of other problems related to property transfers.

 

Transfer Fees

The transfers are calculated on a scale as follows:

Market Value

Percentage

%

Fees

Cumulative Fees

0- 85.430 3 2.563 2.563
85.431 – 170.860 5 4.272 6.835
170.861 and over 8    

 

Discount on transfer fees:

  1. At present, no transfer fees are payable if VAT was applicable or paid at the time of purchase of the property.
  2. Transfer fees are reduced by 50% on all purchases of immovable property if VAT was not paid.

Transfer fees paid on the transfer of property to a family company are refunded in five years provided the company still owns the property, and there have not been any changes to its shareholders.

On the transfer of immovable property from a family company to its shareholders and transfer by donation between spouses, spouses and children or relatives up to third-degree, transfer fees are calculated on the estimated value of the property as of 1/1/2013 at the following rates:

Between spouses                             0.1%

Parent to children                             nil

Between third-degree relatives     0.1%

To trustees                                        €50

The actual cost is a very small transfer fee of around €100.

Transfers of immovable property by a company to another company for re-organisation are exempt from transfer fees.

The date of the valuation is based on the date of sale/acquisition.

If one bought a property in 2002 and transfers the property today, the transfer fees will be based on the market value on the date of the acquisition, i.e. 2002.

Market Value

The law stipulates that the Land Registry Office must ascertain the property’s value on the relevant (sales) date, based on the market value on that date. Therefore, usually, the Registry Office accepts the actual sales price.

Still, approximately 20% of the total is disputed if it can ascertain from its records that the market value at the time is different (usually, it charges higher values and never lower).

The main method adopted to ascertain the market value is the comparable one, among others.

So, if you bought an apartment for, say, €100,000 and the Land Registry Office has in its records other nearby sales for similar properties at €120,000, it will charge you transfer fees based on the €120,000.

Regrettably, a good percentage of Cypriots and others under-declare their sales/acquisition price to save capital gains (by the seller) and transfer fees (by the buyer).

This is widely known – hence the position of the Registry Office.

Objection

It is not all black and white, but you can appeal to the Supreme Court supporting your claim using a private valuer’s report if one disagrees with the Office valuation.  This must be done within 40 days from the date that the Registry Office makes its final/determination assessment.

In such cases, what’s infuriating is that even upon determination/final valuation, the Land Registry Office does not provide the affected parties with a written report supporting its assessment.

In contrast, the buyer must do so in writing for it to reexamine the case.

On the other hand, we have the odd situation of a project of 9 houses of similar extent, bought by me, an ex-minister of Finance, an ex-mayor of Nicosia and others, at the average sales price of €260,000 and we were charged €300,000.

In another project of 33 apartments with an average sales price of €100,000 each, the buyers were charged at the rate of €130,000.

The buyers want to object, but then the cost of going to Court, legal and valuation fees would amount to the same.

So, under this “blackmail” approach, most buyers accept this.

Is this fair?

Date of Assessment

If a contract is deposited with the Land Registry Office, then the date of sale recorded in the contract is the one adopted.

If the contract is not deposited, you must produce your contract and the receipt of the down payment so that the Office can ascertain the date of the sale.

The Economic Situation + transfer

After all the uphill battles to secure the deeds, only 20% of the title deeds issued are transferred, and this because nowadays, every cent counts, people are not willing to come up with (say) €15,000-30,000 in transfer fees.

They feel the fees are fixed on a certain date, and since no interest is charged and provided you have no immediate use of the title, this may be a solution, be it temporary.

However, the time span entails dangers relating to any possible problems that the owner may have, making a transfer difficult and sometimes impossible.

My advice is to have the property transferred as soon as possible from the title issue.