Friday, January 27, 2006

House-buying in Cyprus...

It worries me when things happen fast!

We only saw the house we're planning to buy for the first time 10 days ago. I wrote about our initial thoughts in general here. I posted some photos after we'd seen it a second time here. The family selling it said they didn't want to move immediately: they're having somewhere built which will take a few more months, so they would quite like to rent it from us for a while after we've bought it. We said fine, so long as we can move by the start of June, that's OK. We're in no hurry to move, after all. The estate agent said she'd draw up the contract ensuring that if they stayed longer than June, they would have to pay a huge rent (which would be held back from the house payment until they actually moved) so we wouldn't have a problem.

Fine. Plenty of time to get used to the idea, plenty of time to figure out how to pack, and what we need to buy (curtains etc) before moving. The sale of our house in the UK should go through within the next month or so. We went ahead and paid the initial deposit - ensuring nobody else can buy the house - and didn't expect to do anything more for a few weeks. At least until the sale of our UK house has been completed.

Yesterday the estate agent arranged another meeting, for this morning.

She said that the vendors have decided that it's likely to take more than three months for their new house to be completed (no surprises there...), so they've found somewhere else to rent. They want to move out at the end of February.

Moreoever, she said they need a 'first stage' payment by early next week. I don't know what would have happened if we had not been able to pay this - but as it happens, we had exactly the right amount of money in a sterling savings account in the UK, from an inheritance we received just over a year ago.

The only problem is that it generally takes 21 days for money to clear when we pay a sterling cheque into our Cyprus bank account, and the agent said we really need to make this first payment by next Tuesday.

Gulp.

Someone online had told me about the site xe.com which allows currency transfers to happen immediately, but we hadn't registered with them yet, and Cyprus pounds isn't one of their main currencies. The agent recommended a company called Foreign Currency Direct who have apparently done transfers for people moving from the UK to Cyprus before, and who have an office here. So that seemed like a simpler approach. As if to confirm it, a friend who works as accountant at a different organisation just happened to have a brochure about this company, and said he had heard good things about them. They have a sort of contract system: apparently they put the necessary money into our Cyprus account on Monday, and we then have to transfer the sterling equivalent by next Tuesday to their account.

So Richard arranged the transfer here, and we used The Abbey's online banking system to pay the necessary sterling amount into the Foreign Currency Direct UK account. That should arrive on Tuesday, all being well, since we did it before 5.30pm UK time.

Of course, all we've done so far is transfer money from the UK to Cyprus - with a rather poor exchange rate, unfortunately, but it hasn't been good for a while now. More than we've ever transferred before, but if it goes smoothly we might use this method again in future as it's a lot quicker than paying a cheque into the bank, and (apparently) a slightly better exchange rate than the bank gives too.


So on Tuesday we need to write a Cyprus cheque to the estate agent, for this 'first stage' payment, when we'll sign the contract. That commits us to the house, just two weeks after we first saw it.

Moreover, although we've accepted the offer on our UK house, and the mortgage funding has been agreed in principle to the buyer, the contracts haven't yet been drawn up. While the hope is certainly for completion within a month, nothing is yet guaranteed.

It's Cyprus, so there will be a 'grace period' if necessary... we're not expected to make our final payment until mid-March, and if it's a few weeks more, then apparently it doesn't matter. We just hope and pray that all goes smoothly with both sales. I do believe this is the house God wants us to buy; everything has slotted into place perfectly, even down to our having exactly the right amount of money for the first stage payment already available. But I'm not very good with big changes, and any step of faith is a little scary when one starts out on it...

4 comments:

Anvilcloud said...

Good luck with all of this. Could they not have transferred the money fomr one bank to the other?

mreddie said...

Wow - that sounds a bit like mass confusion, hope all the pieces fall in place - at the right time. ec

Sue said...

AC - no, because it's different currencies (UK pounds vs Cyprus pounds) it's never straightforward. We can pay UK cheques into our Cyprus account, but it takes 21 days to clear. To make it happen quickly, as we need, we have to use a service that buys and sells currencies and can do it on our behalf.

Lindy Kingsley said...

Hi Sue,
We use a great company in the UK called FX solutions for any exchange we need. They will book a date in the future and then buy the currency for you as the rate increases....saved us over 7K. very very professional and helpful
http://www.fxsolutions.co.uk to check out the website.

The house looks wonderful, its strange isn't we looked at lots of properties in different locations, some. The one that felt right was a broken down bungalow with an overgrown snake infested orchard! 2 years on it looks beautiful, the villagers are the best neighbours I have ever had and my mother came for a vist 4 months ago and bought the house down the hill. Go with the gut feeling and it will always work out!