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Cyprus property market speculators lose out

Foreigners who invested in property on the divided island of Cyprus have found their houses were in many cases built by debt strapped developers.

NEWS about the property scams in Cyprus has been reported in GlobalPost, a Boston-based international news service. During the following video report Nicole Itano speaks to Hazel May.

Hazel and her husband Bob came to Cyprus on holiday and fell in love. Eight years ago they sold their house in the UK and bought one in Pyla. But their dream of retiring in the sun rapidly turned into a nightmare.

They soon discovered that their house had been built illegally; without the proper permits. Worse, the man who built it and sold it to them took out hundreds of thousands of Euros mortgages on the land with the Hellenic bank. He was jailed for fraud but has now been freed and is continuing to build illegally and defraud other unsuspecting buyers in the Pyla area.

Because Hazel & Bob’s house was built without the proper permits, an order has been issued for its demolition. The bank has got a court order enabling them to sell Hazel and Bob’s home to recover the developer’s debt.

The Mays are trapped; she has cancer they want to sell the house and downsize. But with all the problems and the developer’s outstanding debts, they cannot get a Title Deed.

Lakis Tofarides, president of the Cyprus Land & Building Developers Association, blames buyers who have not done their homework. “If the property contract has been properly drawn and deposited with the Government, they (property buyers) would have nothing to worry about”.

Perhaps Mr Tofarides could explain why things went so badly wrong in Hazel and Bob’s case? The May’s instructed a lawyer, Maria Souroullas, to act on their behalf. She drew up a contract that was signed by all parties and subsequently deposited it at the Land Registry. According to Mr Tofarides the Mays “would have nothing to worry about”. Clearly Mr Tofarides is badly mistaken!

Fast facts

Investia Property Consultants – introduced the Mays to the property

Ms Maria Souroullas – the lawyer who acted on behalf of the Mays during their purchase.

Antonis Theophanous – the developer who built the Mays house and subsequently imprisoned for fraud, but who is allowed to continue building illegally and defrauding other unsuspecting buyers.

Readers' comments

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  • Daniel Mason says:

    @John

    Yes, the lawyer drew up the contract of sale and lodged it with the land registry office.

    The lawyer should have checked that the house was not built illegally and that the land was not mortgaged. She should also have checked out the developer.

    Many lawyers in Cyprus are incompetent and/or corrupt.

    Daniel

  • Andrew says:

    Very sad for this couple, but one sentence on the video said it all,’ The Cyprus Property Market has Collapsed’ it goes on to say that sales are down 84% and discounts of up to 30% are being offered to no avail.

    People like the May’s are being robbed, but Estate Agents websites still say that Cyprus property values grow daily-a lie, and that Title Deeds will be transferred to new owners-a lie, and the Cyprus Land Registry is one of the best in the world-a lie, and it uses UK law-a lie.

    These Estate Agents carry on advertising property for sale knowing full well what could happen to the unsuspecting buyers, but they don’t care as long as they make a killing.

    They advertise property now and then ‘With Title Deeds’ but they don’t state in the vast majority, ‘No Title Deeds’ do they? No, they will talk their way round that later, when a buyer is really keen and wants to believe anything this ‘nice man/woman’ tells them.

    That Cypriot man pointing his finger is absolutely disgusting! To go through all the right channels only to be told purchasers are to blame beggars belief!

    The Cyprus Property Market deserves all it gets, and is going to get more of IMHO.

  • John says:

    I don’t understand.

    Did they draw up a contract with Ms Sourallas and have it deposited with the land registry office ?

    How did the land registry accept this contract if the house was built illegally ?

    Something not right, or maybe I am missing something.

  • Dave - Argaka says:

    Buy a piece of land, avoid ALL developers, get a good solicitor to ensure the land deeds are given on final payment. (Ours took 18 months.)

    Whilst waiting for your completion this will give you time to find:

    1. A good architect who speaks good English, who will draw up the house of your design large or small.

    2. Locate a builder who you can see has built single plot houses, ideally one English one Cypriot.

    Tie them to a completion date. Strict stage payments.

    On completion you can add your house to your land deeds when YOU want to.

    Result, no developers, so called agents or scam merchants. Be sure you have a damp course when building and provision for a good, economical gas fire plus plenty of insulation.

  • baileyboy says:

    Another very sad case. The house has a demolition order on it so how can the bank repossess the house and try to sell it to pay off the developers debt?

    Good to see the people involved in this fraud named and shamed but I wish the bank had been named as well.

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