Remember that your landlord expects you to negotiate on price. Prices are usually set high (especially for foreigners) in hopes that they will not negotiate or will do a poor job of it. Be firm, but polite. If you seem to reach an impasse, don’t be afraid to walk away. That, too, is a time-honoured negotiation tactic. You may be a surprised at how good a last-minute offer might get.
Contracts are relatively simple, but you will want to make sure that any required repairs are included. Make sure that a timeline for these is also specified in the contract and prices if at all possible. Also make sure that the contract outlines how much and how often the bowwab, trash collector, maintenance man (and so on) should be paid.
When going over the purchase details, make sure you clarify whether or not the transaction will include buyers’ commission. Real estate agents sometimes charge the purchaser a commission worth 3-4% of the property’s value.
Financing your property in Egypt
There are several options available to finance your property in Egypt. The most common, and for many foreigners most disconcerting, is up-front cash. Egypt is very-much a cash-based society (considering that the majority of the population is quite poor by western standards), and paying several hundred thousand (or several million!) pounds cash for a property would not be unheard of. In some cases, sellers have been known to offer discounts of up to 5% for cash buyers.
You may also secure a mortgage from a major Egyptian bank such as Commercial International Bank (CIB) (www.cibeg.com) or National Societe Generale Bank (NSGB) (www.nsgb.com/eg). The mortgage and retail loan industry is still maturing in Egypt, and its penetration rate is rather low. One pleasant side-effect of the developing industry is that it is sometimes possible to secure long-term credit arrangements with as little as 0% interest for the first three or four years.
Another option is a so-called Islamic mortgage (from a finance company such as Egyptian Kuwaiti Holding or Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt). In an Islamic mortgage, a bank buys the property from the landlord and then sells it back to the new owner (you) at a higher price. In this way, Islamic banks avoid charging interest, which is forbidden according to Islamic law.