Case: How to buy property in Cyprus & obtain citizenship for the whole family

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Case description

Our client, Vitaliy K., contacted us in January 2018 with a query regarding buying property for personal use and obtaining citizenship. The client has a large family (two minor children, a spouse and 2 dependent parents) whom he wanted to include the application. Vitaliy was also interested in visa-free travels to Canada.

The main objective was to buy property in a favorable country. The client knew that among the available European citizenship by investment programs he could choose between Malta and Cyprus. He was looking for a company that would help him make his choice and select the appropriate real estate item for obtaining citizenship.

 

Which programs were considered

In order to accommodate for the client’s needs, two options were suggested: the citizenship programs of Malta and Cyprus. Both options involve the ownership of real estate, however in Malta the main part of the investment amount goes for a donation to the government fund that is not quite profitable.

 

Comparison of the citizenship programs of Cyprus and Malta

 CyprusMalta
Minimum investment, €2,000,000880,000
Minimum investment in real estate, €2,000,000350,000 - purchase or
80,000 - rent of real estate for 5 years
Total cost for one applicant, €2,000,000 + taxes, feesfrom 888,200 - when renting
from 1,158,200 - when buying
Total cost for a family of 6, €2,000,000 + taxes, feesот 1,110,700 - when renting
от 1,380,700 - when buying

(As on the beginning of 2018)

In the “Compare the programs” section you can select different programs and compare them by 14 criteria.

Why did the client make his choice in favor of the Cyprus program?

Firstly, in Malta main part of the investment is non-returnable, namely € 650,000 goes to the government fund. In Cyprus, the entire amount is invested in real estate, which may be sold in 3 years with maintenance of citizenship. At the same time, you must keep the ownership of the property worth € 500.000.

Secondly, in Malta the application process takes approximately 14 months, and in Cyprus it takes about 6-8 months. Also in Cyprus, the process of obtaining passports is not as complicated as in Malta. In Malta, the refusal rate for the entire period of program’s operation is 18%.

IMPORTANT NOTE! Although the citizenship program of Malta has its drawbacks, this country’s passport opens visa-free access to the United States, while other countries do not have such an advantage. It should be borne in mind that the passport of Cyprus allows you to open a long-term visa to the United States, if needed.

Real estate market in Cyprus

Choosing real property in Cyprus is not that easy since many objects are overvalued due to the passport program. We recommend carrying out a more in-depth study of the developers’ proposals.

The price of some objects exceeds the market value by 50-100%. In Cyprus the real property market is overheated. Since the amount of land in Cyprus is limited, its value is increased. According to the PwC report for 2017, foreigners closed over 2 thousand transactions per year, which is 33% more than in the previous year.

Number of real estate purchase transactions with foreigners in Cyprus from 2010 to 2017

 

In order to avoid buying overpriced real estate, you must choose an object with great care, using the assistance of professionals.

We sent more than 10 options of real estate objects that accommodated the client’s requirements. One option was a project under construction, consisting of 3 villas in Limassol. The project involved two investment options: full or partial ownership.

Partial ownership means that the investor purchases one of the villas worth € 2 million plus VAT, which the developer guarantees to buy out of the investor for the full price (€ 2 million) in 3 years or offers to exchange for a residential object worth € 500 thousand and pay € 1.5 million. The investor, if desired, can keep the ownership of the villa for personal use or for resale. According to forecasts, the market value of the object will rise to € 2.5 million upon completion of construction.

Full ownership means that the investor purchases all 3 villas. This option is more costly, but according to forecasts it will bring quite a significant income ranging from € 514,500 to € 1,004,500. A detailed calculation of income and a description of the project are provided in this article.

Information note: Real property may be leased out thus bringing additional income.

Such good objects are difficult to find without having a local affiliate on the island; they are not always available on the websites of real estate companies.

cyprus_villa

One of the villas of the complex

Application process

Before proceeding to application process for the citizenship of Cyprus, the client needs to buy real estate. The process of buying real property consists of several stages:

  •  reserving a chosen object (making a deposit in the amount of 10% of the property value), conclusion of a contract with a lawyer. A property may be reserved for 1.5 months;
  • checking the documents, drafting and signing of the contract (payment of 50% of the property value);
  • obtaining the authorization to purchase from the Council of Ministers;
  • payment of VAT (19% or 5% at a preferential rate)  and the balance of property value;
  • obtaining a Certificate of ownership and payment of the Transfer Fee.

Example of calculations when buying real estate in the primary market

Investment in real estate, €2,000,000
VAT19%
Reduced rate of 5% applicable to first 200 sq. meters
Transfer FeePaid only in case of buying a secondary real estate
Stamp duties, €up to 170,000 - 0.15%
over 170,001 - 0.2%
Application fee, €2,000 - per each adult
80 - per child
Fee for issuance of Certificate of naturalization, €5,000 - per each adult
Other expenses (passport and ID card, publication fee etc.), €1,000

After buying real estate, you can start preparing a package of documents for citizenship. For Vitaliy, we prepared a package of documents in 20 days. Before the client made a contract with us and paid 50% of the cost of our services, we also conducted a preliminary check to make sure that the case was successful. In early March 2018, the case was submitted.

The whole application process up to receiving passports took 7 months. Vitaliy received passports together with his children and his wife, and the parents received passports a little later, after the completion of the main applicant’s naturalization procedure.

Information note: On average, the actual duration of consideration of applications in Cyprus ranges from 6 to 8 months. Sometimes additional documents may be requested: confirmation of the origin of funds, utility bills, affidavits (notarized explanations in case of disputable situations), confirmation of financial solvency, consent to grant citizenship to a child from the second parent, etc.

The information about the applicant’s business and sources of funds indicated in the application form is carefully checked. Therefore it is necessary to provide only truthful data.

The main criterion for the success of a case is the absence of outstanding conviction for serious crimes and a person’s not being included in the sanctions list, wanted list or Interpol database.

Fast facts

Having analyzed different objects, the client made his choice in favor of purchasing real estate in Limassol for the following reasons:

  • The object is located in the second largest city of Cyprus, and more specifically in the elite eastern part of Limassol;
  • The object fully meets the client’s requirements;
  • If the client decides to sell the property, its market value is projected to reach € 2.5 million. However, the client has chosen an option of a guaranteed return of funds in 3 years through the buyout of the villa by the developer.

Expert's opinion

Kristina Ruzhilo: “Choosing real estate in Cyprus requires very careful approach, because in most cases the objects are significantly overvalued. Fancy photographs on websites often do not reflect the actual situation. We recommend selecting several objects before arriving to Cyprus, so that you could inspect them on site and see for yourself what their condition is.

We recommend only those developers whose portfolio already includes successful projects, offering clients the options after analyzing the developer’s legal documentation. For assessing a developer’s reliability it is important to have an office in Cyprus and know the local specifics. ”

Conclusions

1. When choosing a property in Cyprus, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • whether an object has been built according to local building codes;
  • cost of similar object in the secondary market;
  • whether there is a possibility of investment refund;
  • additional expenses in the form of taxes and state fees;
  • the profitability of the object and whether it may be leased out under the terms of the program;
  • whether there is a developed infrastructure, etc.

2. In addition to real estate, we recommend paying attention to the following factors when choosing a program:

  • How difficult it is to obtain citizenship and whether there is a guarantee of obtaining a passport (percentage of refusals, requirements regarding documents confirming the origin of funds, etc.);
  • How effective is the program currently. You can find out why it is important, in this article.

Only collaboration with specialists who have extensive experience working with different programs will allow you to choose the most suitable option.

 

Krisitna
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