EGYPTIAN PROPERTY LAW
BUYING PROPERTY IN EGYPT
In general when buying property in Egypt from a new development, prices are set and there is little room for negotiation. Re-sale properties sometimes offer opportunity for negotiation. Payment terms vary. Cash buyers usually benefit from a discount of around 5% or long- term credit arrangements often at 0% interest over 3 or 4 years are possible.
Mortgages are still not available from the UK banks to buy property in Egypt, there is a proposed introduction of mortgage’s (subject to status) on property purchases in Egypt from Egyptian banks such as HSBC Egypt but these arrangements are still not finalised as of (March 2009) which would give yet more incentives for foreigners to purchase property in Egypt.
Some Middle Eastern banks are now offering mortgages (subject to status) of 60% over 15years with interest rates of 8-10%. This only applies on freehold property and once the purchaser has a *green contract and the arrangements are made through the developer. *Green contract is the contract given to you by the Egyptian courts once your property has been paid in full for and registered or validated by signature of validity process.
Purchasers must be aware of the extra cost of the “buyers commission” when purchasing in some areas of Egypt. This is a fee which is charged to the purchaser by the agent handling the transaction of sale. This fee is usually 1.5% of the price of the property. In other areas of Egypt the “buyers commission” is between 4% and 5% of the value of the property but does include some of the lawyers fees. Uncover Egypt does not operate this commission.
GET A LAWYER IN EGYPT
Instructing a good lawyer is essential; we are able to assist you with this. The property must be checked against loans, debts and disputes. The correct signatures and all relevant powers of attorney from the seller should be verified by the lawyer in Egypt.
ARABIC AND ENGLISH CONTRACTS
All contracts should be in both Arabic and English and should be translated to ensure the Arabic matches the English.
A deposit is usually required at the stage the lawyers get involved. The size of the deposit does vary. Uncover Egypt will ensure that you pay only the minimum requirement. The deeds to your property in Egypt are assigned to you at the land registry office and the cost of this a property is maximum 2000,00 EGP (As of June 2008)
Purchasing a property in South Sinai such as Sharm el Sheikh is different than purchasing a property in any other location in Egypt, this is because of the difference in legal status. An administrative decree was issued by the prime minister of Egypt in 2005, abrogating the context of the previous law issued in 1996. Despite the fact that an administrative decree is normally unable to nullify law, this decree is currently the prevalent decree governing the foreigners’ legal status when it comes to purchasing a property in South Sinai.
The aforementioned decree states that foreigner purchasers in South Sinai may not be granted the right to be “landlords” on the properties they purchase, but to only have the “Freehold” right, for the maximum time of 99 years.
Normally the term “Freehold” applies to the right to enjoy a property and all its advantages for good, and the right of disposal, either physical or legal disposal, however the decree has stated the maximum limit of freehold as 99 years, therefore – legally talking – it is NOT freehold, and it is therefore why it is rephrased to “Usufruct”.
In other areas of Egypt it is still possible to buy freehold properties.
APPLY FOR RESIDENCE IN EGYPT
When you purchase property in Egypt you must also apply for residency Entry Visa – You need to apply for this when in Egypt and the cost is 150.00 EGP. These visas are usually valid for one year.
This is needed to complete the residence procedure in Egypt and you must have an entry visa to be able to give your lawyer power of attorney to go to court on your behalf and register your property. Owning a property in Egypt does not automatically grant residency, however this is a formality if you own a property. Uncover Egypt will assist you with this process.
REGISTRATION/ SIGNATURE OF VALIDITY PROCEDURE
There are two procedures that can be adopted when purchasing property in Egypt. The first is a full registration and the second is to choose the Signature of validity process. Registration of a property gives you maximum security under Egyptian law.
When purchasing property in South Sinai one can only purchase a 99 year lease on the land and therefore the buyer can only purchase through the process of Signature of validity. In other areas of Egypt where the land is freehold either process can be adopted. However, even in the areas of Egypt where foreigners can purchase freehold, signature of validity can be used instead of registration.
And the ‘signature validity court verdict’ method has actually become the most popular route for foreigners even outside Sinai, because it allows the foreigner to buy as many properties as he likes, rent them, and sell when he likes.