UNLIKE last year, when our list of Top 10 stories was dominated by reports of those seeking justice for the alleged mis-selling of Swiss Franc Loans, this year we have quite a mixed bag for you.
Let’s start at the 10th most popular and work our way up to the most read article.
At number 10: BBC Money Box: Cyprus property troubles – The BBC Radio 4 program ‘Money Box’ reported on the problems faced by many British people who purchased property in Cyprus with loans denominated in Swiss Francs. In the program, Money Box reporter Bob Howard talked to ‘Tim’ who was tempted to buy off-plan in a Cyprus development after he was cold-called by a salesman in 2005.
At number 9: Property sales collapse as crisis deepens – Statistics from the Department of Lands and Surveys revealing how property sales had been badly hit as the financial crisis deepened as a consequence of the decisions taken by the Eurogroup to impose savage bailout conditions on the island.
At number 8: Revised property tax bill announced – Details of the proposed property tax bill were announced (and then changed a few months later), but government spokesman Christos Stylianides admitted that there were shortcomings in the data used to assess the new tax rates as houses valued at many millions of Euros had not been included in the calculations as they have not been properly registered, scotching claims made by the authorities that the Cyprus Land Registry is considered one of the most reliable in the world.
At number 7: Price falls loom in wake of bailout – Members of the Property Valuers Association were advised not to carry out valuations for banks or individuals until the terms of a financial bailout become clear and its chairman, Charalambos Petrides, warned of possible double-digit price drops in the wake of the bailout.
At number 6: Cyprus Title Deeds bank extortion – Daniel Hannan raised a question in the European Parliament concerning the activities of receivers acting for banks who are threatening buyers with selling their homes unless they pay off the developers’ defaulted mortgages, their taxes and other creditors. (A reply to this question is eagerly anticipated).
At number 5: Price falls continue as uncertainty grows – The property price index published quarterly by RICS Cyprus reported on price falls across the island amid the worsening state of the economy and growing uncertainty, with prices of residential apartments and houses falling by an average of 3.1% and 1.4% respectively during the fourth quarter of 2012.
At number 4: Property tax bill approved by parliament – In May, MPs approved an amended bill to increase the rate of Immovable Property Tax, which was part of the preliminary agreement between Cyprus and its international lenders. By revising the Immovable Property Tax framework, it was estimated that the government would collect approximately €136 million revenue from property taxation.
At number 3: Cypriot property Title Deeds – Daniel Hannan MEP raised a further question in the European Parliament seeking assurance that buyers who had paid in full for properties would have access to their deeds, without exception, and that these deeds would be free of any encumbrances.
At number 2: Alpha Bank Cyprus visited by bailiffs – private bailiffs engaged by a Nicosia-based law firm, instructed by a group of British buyers to pursue their claims of mis-selling loans denominated in Swiss Francs, served warning letters on the Alpha Bank. The Alpha Bank was given 21 days to respond.
And finally at number 1: Money off your Immovable Property Tax bill – After more than two months of hot air, speculation, rumour and debate, amendments to the Immovable Property Tax law for 2013 were finally passed by a slim majority of MPs at a plenary session of the House of Representatives.
May we take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and health, happiness and success in the New Year.
Σας Εύχομαι Καλά Χριστούγεννα και Ευτυχισμένο το Νέον Έτος 2014.