Thursday, July 06, 2006

Moving house, the long version. Tuesday.

Tuesday was set for completion day. The vendor told us that he had some contact in the Land Registry office, so it might be a bit quicker (typical for Cyprus!). He also said that his tax wouldn't be sorted out fully until about noon, and that he would call Richard's mobile phone to tell us when to go there. Not 8am as our lawyer had suggested, to get first place in the queue.

So we all went to the new house, with the contents of our freezer in cool-boxes in the back of the car. Richard had switched the freezer and fridge on before we left on Monday night so they could get cold enough. We were astounded at how much frozen food we had...! I was also surprised at how full the huge new freezer (a seven-drawer upright) became.

We didn't feel at all inspired to paint, but decided to do our bedroom. We had chosen a pale creamy colour, much more suitable than the blue, and with all three of us working it only took a couple of hours. At 11.30 Richard suggested we go to the old house to have something to eat, realising that if we were indeed called to the Land Registry office at noon, we might be sitting there until past two o'clock, getting very hungry.

It was excellent foresight. Just as we were finishing our lunch, the vendor called saying we should go there at once. So we gulped down some too-hot coffee, and - with a little confusion - found the correct place.

The vendor wasn't there.

So Richard phoned him, and he said he was still at the tax office! But he would be there soon. So we waited about half an hour, thinking we could have had our coffee in a more leisurely way...

It was a strange place. Very busy, with doors that banged every few seconds and people rushing in and out. Thankfully it was air-conditioned. Unfortunately the seats were uncomfortable and hardly anyone thought to close the doors carefully. About 12.30 the vendors came in, went and talked to one of the officials, and then asked us to sign some papers.

We usually like to read what we're signing, but they were all in Greek - so we trusted that everything was all right, and signed anyway. We also had to produce our copy of the contract. Then the vendors had to go and pay yet more tax, and told us to wait about an hour!

So we did so, entertaining ourselves in the meantime by writing a lengthy list of things we knew we would need for the new house - like extra bins, dustpan and brush, rope to tie items onto trucks on moving day, new toaster... thrilling stuff.

Eventually the vendors came back having paid their capital gains tax, and shocked at the amount which was twice what they had expected. In the UK, this tax is only due on second properties, or those used for rental. But here in Cyprus, it's payable - at a rate of 20% - on any house sale. it's not surprising that people move so rarely!

We waited a bit more, then were asked through to the other office where we had to hand over our passports and the paper giving us permission (as foreigners) to buy a house. Then they told us to go back to the waiting room.

So we waited yet more, talking a bit with the vendors about details of the house - like the washing machine problem, and how to change the water filters - and eventually, at two o'clock - when everyone else had gone from the outer room, and the place was about to close - we went back to the inner office where we had to sign yet more paper, and hand over the bank draft for the balance on the house. We also had to pay for the deeds transfer. We were told it was £500 more than the lawyer had told us, so our bank draft was not enough. We phoned him, and he said that the Land Registry people were correct - he had made a mistake. Thankfully they didn't mind a cheque for the final amount, so we wrote that, relieved that there were no more serious problems.

So at last we were the legal owners of this house. We didn't receive the deeds then - I don't know why the computers couldn't just print them out, but apparently not. They will come in the post.

What a relief.

We spent most of Tuesday afternoon buying the bits and pieces on our list, pleased to discover that Orphanides non-grocery departments were having a 10% off sale. In the evening we tried in vain to pack the rest of the bits and pieces that were still lying around in our rental home, but there seemed so much clutter - despite a month's packing - and I was so tired I had to get to bed before 10pm.

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