What’s driving the boom in North Cyprus property enquiries?
Whilst many businesses all over the world are getting ready to close or lay off staff, some North Cyprus real estate managers are getting ready to expand their workforce. This unexpected situation is in line with recent statistics published by Rightmove who have found that during the lockdown, enquiries for overseas properties by British property seekers, rose by an average of 33%.
Rightmove’s property expert Miles Shipside has been quoted as saying that: “This is an indication that this has been a life-changing period for many who are re-appraising both how and where they want to live.” And it seems that North Cyprus is one of the places people want to escape to.
So, what especially is driving the increase in North Cyprus property enquiries? Real estate advisor Sol from leading property consultancy North Cyprus International has worked in North Cyprus real estate for over 18 years. He gave Cyprium News his views on what is driving the TRNC enquiry boom.
“It’s crazy,” he told us on a brief break from sourcing properties for his many online enquirers. “Here we are, dealing with quarantine, border and PCR issues. But our ‘phones in the UK and in North Cyprus are busy all day long with property and relocation requests from people all over the world. You would think COVID would have put people off moving abroad. But in lockdown, many people had time to browse and make enquiries. They’ve had time to think about what they wanted from their lives. Other people are being made redundant and are attracted by the lower cost of living in North Cyprus”.
We asked Sol if he’d had many enquiries from Turkish Cypriots abroad.
“Yes. Many UK-based Turkish Cypriots are fed up with the UK and COVID and just want to come and live full or part-time somewhere that they feel more at home. For them, a flight to Ercan and 7-day isolation in a family home or even in the hotel is worth going through if they are coming to relocate. And once the 7-day isolation for arrivals from the UK is lifted, we are looking forward to helping a large number of prospective buyers just waiting to get on a plane – the list is a mile long”.
So, is it only relocation enquiries which are booming?
The answer is no – overseas property investors are enquiring too. Sol’s colleague Angela, from NCI’s UK office, explains: “Investors are also making enquiries. With under-construction studios still starting at around £40,000, this means that investors can enter the market with a 30% down payment for as little as £12,000. In addition, developers are offering limited time interest-free payment plans to encourage investors to reserve now, before flights re-open to all.
Investors know that once the projects are completed in 2022, the pandemic should be over and the rental incomes will return to pre-COVID levels. They are playing the long game and banking on a post-COVID property boom”.
Virtual viewings are the “new normal” for real estate
North Cyprus is not yet able to welcome visitors in person from all countries easily, yet property sales are still proceeding. Many North Cyprus property buyers now reserve or even complete their purchase via “virtual tours” of villas and apartments in real-time on Skype, WhatsApp or Facetime. In addition, “online viewing videos” are now encouraged by Rightmove and have fast become a crucial part of all real estate website listings.
How does North Cyprus compare with South Cyprus for property purchase?
If an overseas buyer is looking at Cyprus in general, there are both cost and lifestyle factors to weigh up in comparing both sides of the island.
For pure cost reasons, the north has the edge. North Cyprus International estimates that the cost of living in the north is approximately 25% lower than the south. The low value of the Turkish Lira at present against the pound sterling and the euro makes shopping and eating out much more affordable than in the euro-based south. And of course, property prices are substantially more affordable in the North of the island.
Property running costs are also lower. Council (Belediye) Tax in the North is currently less than £100 per year for a standard 3 bedroom villa, whereas in the South it’s often over £200.
In terms of lifestyle, those coming for visits or relocation are attracted by the lower crime rates and a greater sense of security in the North. With more young families relocating, low crime, the safety of children, and the growing choice of high-quality primary, secondary and tertiary level education in North Cyprus has given the North Cyprus property market a real boost. Fees are also lower than at comparable establishments in South Cyprus.
There are other aspects to life in North Cyprus which appeals to those relocating, as well as the lower crime rate. We asked a couple who are regular visitors to North Cyprus and who have stayed in both North and South Cyprus, why they are favouring the north for retirement.
“We feel that the TRNC offers us an authentic experience of living alongside another culture and one which thrives all the year-round”, they said. “In the South, we found that many restaurants and bars were only for ex-pats – and when we visited in the winter, they were closed or empty.
But here, we find that most restaurants have both ex-pat and local customers.
This makes us feel part of North Cyprus life. We love the welcome we get from the Turkish Cypriots and feel completely accepted by the local people – part of the community and life here. We would choose North Cyprus over Turkey too, owing to the fact that far more English is spoken and cars drive on the left”.
Buying property safely in North Cyprus So how can people buy safely and not have legal problems buying a property? Angela outlined the NCI Golden Rules: “Firstly, if a property is extremely cheap there is often a good reason for it.
Get it checked out independently. Secondly, never pay a reservation deposit direct to an agent or developer. Appoint an approved local lawyer of your choice even if buying remotely and have a legal consultation in person or on the phone.
Pay the reservation deposit to the lawyer. Do not try to purchase without using a lawyer. The lawyer will ensure that the property paperwork is all in order, release the reservation deposit to the seller.
Then once the contract is signed, your lawyer will register this immediately at the land registry.
Sadly, we do hear of some buyers who lose reservation deposits when they buy incorrectly and yield to pressure or sales techniques. Never buy in a rush!” North Cyprus has often earned the title “the Med’s best-kept secret”. Well if the enquiry boom is anything to go by – the secret is out.