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Solicitors, why the high fee in Northern Cyprus?

December 4-10, 2004

A couple of months ago I attended a public meeting, hosted by the British Residents’ Society [of Northern Cyprus] and featuring the [Northern Cyprus] Minister of the Interior, Özkan Murat, and his deputy, Hasan F?nd?k.

Part of the discussion moved on to house prices [in Northern Cyprus], the inability of Cypriots to afford property and the current salary levels here [in Northern Cyprus].

An interesting fact then emerged: that the highest grade of civil servant [in Northern Cyprus] (and we’re talking here about heads of department, ie one step down from a Cabinet minister) receives less than £1,000 per month.

This set me to thinking about the fees charged by solicitors [in Northern Cyprus]. Brits are being charged between £1,000 and £1,200 for conveyancing on their purchases [of properties in Northern Cyprus], which should involve no more than two or three hours’ work.

I checked on the conveyancing bill for the last house I bought in the UK and found it to be £220 for a house a lot more expensive than the one I bought here [in Northern Cyprus]. So I have questions:
What is so difficult or complex about the procedure here [of buying property in Northern Cyprus] that makes it so terribly expensive?
Can a member of the local legal profession provide any justification for this level of fee?
Is it true that a part of the fee is paid back to the estate agent [in Northern Cyprus] as commission for the referral?
What do Cypriots pay for the same service [in Northern Cyprus]?

Derek Jolly

Editor’s note: Süleyman Dolmac?, president of the TRNC [Northern Cyprus] Bar Council, said the amount of work involved on a property being bought by a foreigner [in Northern Cyprus] was considerable and time-consuming. It might include the contract, power of attorney, title deed research, criminal record search, permission from the military and from the Council of Ministers [of Northern Cyprus]. The fee for Turkish Cypriots [of Northern Cyprus] was lower because the work involved was much less. He advised buyers to “shop around” and bargain over the fees. Mr. Dolmac? said he did not believe it to be true that lawyers paid a commission to the estate agents [in Northern Cyprus].

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