Buying property in Egypt pitfalls & the 2 legal routes

Buying property in Egypt pitfalls

 
Foreigners can now buy and own property in Egypt under law number 230 of 1996 and there are 2 ways for the purchaser to carry out the final legalities when completing the property transaction. It can feel complicated when looking at all the information online as to the best process to undertake, however, there are fairly basic principles when looking at each method and there are advantages and disadvantages for both systems that you should recognise to avoid the common buying property in Egypt pitfalls.

The Full Registration process in Egypt

 
Firstly, there is the full registration process which offers protection to the buyer, this is the recognised way to transfer property ownership in Egypt and it takes 18-24 months to complete. It provides an excellent method of protection, especially when purchasing a resale property, which has been owned by multiple buyers. Although its restrictive nature does make it impractical for foreign buyers to pursue when buying property for investment purposes. 
 
If you have purchased an apartment directly from a developer as a first owner, we recommend the Signiture court validity process (See below).

This is because the full registration process restricts buyers to own only 2 properties of less than 4,000 sqm in total, it also does not permit the owner to rent the property out for 5 years or resell before 5 years and even if they do wish to sell after this period, they should seek the approval of the prime minister.

Realistically, this is not a good option for a property investor who wishes to purchase multiple properties, rent them out and also have the flexibility to resell the properties as and when they wish, this process would become one of the main buying properties in Egypt pitfalls if the investor is unable to utilize their investment properly.

 

The Signature court validity process in Egypt (Recommended)

 
This is when the second option becomes more favourable and this is the Signature court validity option, which is generally the method taken by 99% of foreign buyers, to have legal protection without the inherent restrictions imposed by the full registration process.

This option initially came about as a solution to legally recognizing property purchases in Sharm el sheikh, this was bought about by changes imposed via an administrative decree in 2005 which changed the way the 1996 law applied to purchases in Sharm. It meant that unlike in areas like Hurghada where foreigners can own the property as a freehold, purchasers in Sharm could only have their contract legitimized as 99-year leasehold ownership.

Is it safe to buy property in Hurghada?

In short, YES. If done the right way. When you are buying a property in Hurghada, like all around the World, there are scams and pitfalls to look out for. However, we have a summary of how to maximise your safety when purchasing an apartment in Hurghada and protect the purchasers. 

Go Investment has carried out extensive legal checks on all the developers we work with. We have done due diligence on the developments to make sure the buyers are protected as much as possible. 

If you are buying a resale apartment, the procedure is a lot more complex when it comes to safety, as there may be multiple land owners and property owners.

As you are purchasing directly from the developers on our projects then you will not need to be concerned with the previous owners and whether there are any debts on the property or other owners that you may be unaware of.

Summary to avoid buying property in Egypt Pitfalls

 
Although buyers outside of Sharm el sheikh can carry out the full registration, this newer process is now the most dominant way for foreigners to complete legalities for their purchases, regardless of the other options available. This is because it allows a foreigner to purchase as many properties as they wish without restriction, also they can sell when they like and they do not have to wait for a specific timeline.

Although this option can be seen as a weaker form of protection, it is not really a concern if you are purchasing off plan, as one of the main reasons for the full registration process is to ensure that the previous owners do not have any debt secured against the property which could compromise the sale for a new buyer. When buying off plan, then it is easier to check this, as independent due diligence on the developer and the land documents will be able to clarify the developer’s position.

On the UK government guidance website to avoid buying property in Egypt pitfalls, they recommend “Verifying the legality and rightfulness of the ownership as well as the permissions provided to the real estate developer. This includes the seller’s ownership of the land on which the building is constructed, and that it was built by virtue of a construction license issued from the competent Egyptian governmental authorities.”[1] This information should all be contained in the developer’s due diligence, so if you are buying off plan you should ask to see this document.

In summary, when purchasing off plan to avoid buying property in Egypt pitfalls then you should consider which method is best for your circumstances. The most popular and non-restrictive method to legalize the sale in the courts for foreign owners tends to be via the signature court validity option, which can be carried out via giving power of attorney to a lawyer to complete the process for you and it will take around 6-8 months to complete. If you will take this method, then it is important to obtain independent due diligence of the development, to ensure that everything has been checked.

When purchasing an older property or resale, then for peace of mind it would be much more recommended to carry out the full registration process to make sure there are no debts against the property and that you can legally own the property, as the UK government guidelines warn “Many older buildings are not registered and sometimes are subject to disputes among many members of the owning family; therefore, it is crucial to verify that the property is registered.”[2]

This option comes with restrictions but on risk assessment then it may be the better option to avoid any complications later on down the line, a good lawyer can check the property history for you to trace the ownership documents to ensure that the property is free from previous owner debts and that the person selling has the right to do so based on the legal documents, then as extra protection then they can then register this for you to transfer this legally into your name.

So depending on what you are purchasing and your personal situation, then this should be a helpful guide to choosing the best option for you and avoiding buying property in Egypt pitfalls.

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By Namira Davies (LLB) (LLM) International Law, Co-director Go Investment Ltd, selling properties in Hurghada for 10 years and helping buyers avoid the buying property in Egypt pitfalls. (This is written to give guidance based on industry knowledge and experience and should not be used as legal advice).


[1] Governments guidance Buying Property in Egypt

[2] Governments guidance Buying Property in Egypt

Buying property in Egypt pitfalls is just one of our guides to help investors buy property in Hurghada and Egypt.

New Homes in Hurghada

There are many advantages of buying a new build apartment directly from a developer in Hurghada Red Sea.

When you are looking for luxury properties for sale in Sahl Hasheesh or a new resort in Hurghada or El Gouna, you will have a range of choices, these will generally include size, location, view and layout.

The biggest advantage when buying a new home from a developer is you can pay over an interest-free payment scheme rather than paying in full when buying a re-sale apartment from an individual owner.

Buying property in Hurghada Egypt during the construction stages is the most popular way for buyers to purchase. Buying pre-construction will generally give buyers more choice of property, better prices, more favorable payments terms and time to plan for extras they my wish to purchase on completion, such as furniture.

Another big factor to buying a new build is that you get a modern up to date property with better design specifications to suit modern living requirements.

The properties in Hurghada are cheap for the International market, due to the weakness in the Egyptian currency (Giving currencies such as GBP, EURO and USD an advantage in value for money) and the overall costs such as labour being lower in Egypt than many other countries.

The buying costs are also a great advantage when buying in Egypt with currently no buying taxes, low selling taxes and no inheritance tax. This teamed with interest free payment terms offered by develpers makes the buying costs some of the worlds most affordable. 

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Disclaimer: We have conducted extensive research and possess over a decade of experience, having facilitated more than 1000 property sales in Hurghada to foreign buyers. However, circumstances evolve, and individual situations vary. Please note that these resources are intended solely for informational purposes to the best of our knowledge and should not be construed as professional legal or tax advice.