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How to avoid property scams in Cyprus

Every day on the news, we witness cases of property scams and fraud across Cyprus or regarding foreign buyers of Cypriot properties. Here are just a few examples:

Limassol man duped in house sale

Cyprus One arrested, two sought in €400,000 land fraud case

Pensioner loses €500,000 in online property scam

Although property scams may not be new, criminals are getting smarter and swifter with new technologies and resources. With their new approaches to manipulation (phishing emails, fraud listings), scammers are stealing larger amounts of money from property seekers.

In this article, we will look at precautions to take to avoid common scams when searching for properties in Cyprus.

Don’t send money online

Cybercriminals are getting swifter and smarter, which means that an email that may look legitimate from the property owner asking for a bank transfer to their account may, in fact, be the work of a hacker.

Use trustworthy property search websites

Websites such as Realtors Cyprus only post property listings posted by licensed real estate agents verified by ΣΚΕΚ/CREAA. With penalties in place for agents who don’t follow the guidelines of legal real estate practices, you can be at ease that the vetted properties are trustworthy.

Check for inconsistencies in information

The listing may be a scam if provided details have inconsistencies or sudden drastic changes, such as a different price or inconsistent property images. Scam property posts may also have a lot of spelling mistakes and unclear or non-existent photographs.

Request an in-person tour

Do not spend your money on a property that you have never visited in person. Over the internet, it’s easier than ever for scammers to make a property listing for a property that they don’t own or that doesn’t even exist. The only real way to verify if a property is as it seems online is by visiting it for an in-person tour yourself or by somebody you trust fully (a close relative or friend).

Ask for title deeds

So, you’ve gone and inspected the property in person, the owner seems like a decent person, and everything is falling into place. At this point (if you haven’t already), it’s crucial to ensure the owner has a valid title deed in their name. Whether you are buying or renting the property from them, it is equally as essential to verify that the owner is the legitimate and legal property owner. Or else, you could get trapped in a sticky legal situation.

For example, if you buy a house from someone who does not have a valid title deed, they will not be able to transfer legal ownership to you, so you would pay for a property that is not legally yours. It’s common practice for a lawyer to inspect title deeds during a property transaction to inspect if legal rights are in place – we recommend this!

Beware of “too good to be true” deals

If a property seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often use attractive prices or special offers to lure in unsuspecting buyers. Always be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true, and ask plenty of questions to understand the offer better.

Contact a licensed agent/lawyer

The most efficient way to rule out any malpractice regarding real estate or land is by requesting the assistance of a licensed real estate agent or lawyer. A trusted professional has the experience to help you rule out scam listings and invalid documents, such as fraudulent title deeds. You can check who is a licensed agent or agency in Cyprus on CREAA’s website.

Don’t hesitate to ask lots of questions

The more questions you ask about properties, the better. If a property owner is legitimate, they should have no problem answering questions about title deeds, utilities, common expenses, parking, location, and anything to do with the property. Do not safely assume anything, or you may become another victim of crooked property scammers.


To Conclude

This article highlights the increasing instances of property scams and fraud in Cyprus and provides tips on how to avoid falling victim to them. We advise against sending money online, using trustworthy property search websites, checking for inconsistencies in information, requesting an in-person tour, asking for title deeds, being wary of “too good to be true” deals, contacting licensed agents/lawyers, and asking lots of questions. By being vigilant and following these guidelines, property seekers can protect themselves from falling victim to property scams and fraud.

If you witness or experience any scam properties or shady real estate agents, report them to the local authorities or CREAA.

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