Business and Economy — 28 June 2011

BEWARE! – Should You Pay To Get Your Title Deeds?

Cyprus firms offering to obtain your title deeds quicker maybe conning people into a service that could escalate in price:

It has come to light via sources at the Cyprus Mail and through word of mouth that a number of large firms in Cyprus namely; BuySell Cyprus, City Living and Fotos Pittadjis are offering confused property owners a chance to get their Title Deeds “easier and quicker” with the passing of the new Title Deeds Amnesty Law.

Property service companies V’s Developers the big showdown:

Aristo developers say that they are worried people will be paying money they do not need to pay for a service that is overpriced, however many would say that developers and banks are the main problem in the title deeds mess, so who to believe?

Seeking to mitigate the negative impact of people using a third party to obtain their title deeds Aristo released this statement:

“Aristo Developers would like to reassure all its clients that the company will assume all responsibilities regarding … Title Deeds thereby avoiding the unnecessary costs made to third parties,” the company said in paid advertisements in the local press. The CLBDA went further, advising buyers to “play it safe”: “Buyers should be warned that they may be trapped into additional expenses and contributions, which they may have already paid or are not necessary to pay.”

BuySell Cyprus using fear driven sales tactics again?

According to Buysell’s Chris Hajikyriacou, you get a 99% chance of receiving your deeds for €4,000, however much it eventually costs Buysell….

Sounds like a great deal?

But what are you really getting from this kind of contract and is the contract worth any salt?

So what happens when you visit the BuySell Cyprus website today?

We already reported how Buy Sell sent a scaremongering article to their email list the other month.

Well here is the headline “squeeze” page that BuySell bring you to from their current home page.

“BuySell is the only organization in Cyprus with a specialized
TITLE DEEDS DEPARTMENT. We will send the first one thousand applications before August 31st, 2011. Apply now to be among the first who will get their title deeds.”

Now in classic marketing parlance this screams “dodgy”…..why?

The usual plays on fears, a time limit to get yourself on their books and no chance to steer off the page until you have signed up…and loose, misleading and outrageous claims.

So what are these firms ACTUALLY offering:

Lets take BuySell’s title deed service and see what they actually give you for a whopping €4000 plus VAT.

Kindly they have broken down their fees:

1. €1,500 Euro for the Architect/Civil Engineer.
2. €1,500 Euro for Tax Clearance and other accounting expenses.
3. €1,000 Euro for Legal and document preparation fees.
(above fees are subject to 15% VAT)

The actual fact is you can do all this yourself at a fraction of the cost quoted above.

So what are the hidden charges and issues with the above service considering you can do it all yourself for much less without much hassle?

Costs likely to grow?

This is probably only the start of your actual costs to obtain your Title Deeds.

Nigel Howarth a well known local property expert has signaled one of the strongest warnings about this potential fiasco stating that the service charges that companies such as BuySell and City Living will be charging initially (up to €4000) are wholly unrelated to the actual cost of obtaining your title deeds at the end of the process.

Here is a list of areas that could eventually cost property owners more cash before title deeds are issued:

Charges that will be paid to correct planning irregularities

Part of the developers mortgage on the land

The developers tax liabilities

A tax clearance certificate paid to the Land Registry

Property transfer fees to the Land Registry.

Nigel Howarth told the Sunday Mail:

“Buyers wishing to recover these costs (excluding property transfer fees) may sue their developer. This will involve additional legal and court fees and there is no guarantee that the court will rule in their favour when their case is eventually heard,”

When quizzed about the potential for costs to escalate considerably while in the process of obtaining title deeds through a service prover, Marketing manager at BuySell Cyprus Chris Hajkyriacou says that their firm will cover them; “BuySell is not making any money on this… We are paying for all the costs of the developers, for the permits and for the certificate of final approval,”

According to Howarth: “The main barrier… will undoubtedly be a developer’s mortgage that pre-dates the buyer’s contract of sale.” In such cases the developer’s bank will not release its charge on the property until that mortgage has been repaid.

“I know BuySell say that a buyer’s contract will take precedence over a developer’s mortgage, but this will only apply to sales that take place after the new law is implemented, it does not apply retrospectively to sales that have already taken place,” Howarth said.

What is quite remarkable is that he is quoted as saying BuySell is not making any money on this.

With an estimated 2000 clients that will eventually take up their service at a MINIMUM of €4000 each, BuySell alone will pocket a cool €8,000,000, yes, that is €8 Million Euros.

We do worry that for many title deed seekers the fees will escalate and that whatever BuySell say now will potentially not be the case when it comes to the crunch.

New Law – New Uncertainties – So how can service providers be so sure costs will not rise?

In their marketing blurb BuySell do mention that this is a new area of law and that they have a team dedicated to obtaining title deeds. Well you would hope so when they expect €8 million to come through the books in the near future….but the question must be posed:

How can they be so confident that the service they provide will not cost any more to their clients when the law is so new?…and where are the ABSOLUTE guarantees on this within the contract that you sign.

We advise extreme caution here and that you seek an unbiased legal representative that can make sure that you are not going to pay well over the odds for a potentially sub standard service that you can do alone with minimum fuss.

The alternative is to do it alone:

For those who do not wish to chance it with the private agencies, you can make the application yourself and wait for the government to do the job for you.

This requires submission of a ‘Statement of Intent’ form before October this year, followed by a full application by April 7 2014, available from a Citizens Service Centre.

Property For Sale In Paphos

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News Reporter

Anthony has been writing about global property and financial markets for over 10 years. Here he brings his passion and knowledge to our property news site for Cyprus to help people thinking of buying on the gorgeous island of Cyprus.

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