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Marginal rise in property sales

The number of property sales in Cyprus during January 2016 rose marginally compared to the number of sales in January 2015 according to official statistics published by the Department of Lands and Surveys.

Cyprus property sales rise marginallyTHE NUMBER of property sales in Cyprus during January 2016 rose by 2 per cent compared with the same month last year according to official figures issued by the Department of Lands & Surveys.

This 2% rise follows a 13% rise in December, a 21% rise in November and a 23% rise in October.

During January total of 327 contracts for the sale of commercial and residential properties and land (building plots and fields) were deposited at Land Registry offices across Cyprus, compared with the 321 deposited in January 2015.

While property sales in Larnaca and Limassol fell by 13% and 3% respectively, they rose in the remaining three districts of the island. Sales in Famagusta rose 38% and sales in Nicosia rose by 17%, while sales in Paphos rose by 9%.

Industry pundits consider that the real estate market will improve following the reduction in Property Transfer Fees, the planning amnesty and the ‘trapped buyers’/’hidden mortgage’ law that enables those deceived into buying property built on mortgaged land to obtain Title Deeds.

A reduction in bank lending rates should also help to encourage sales.

Sales should also increase as banks move forward with foreclosures. The Co-operative is expected to start foreclosure proceedings on 70 properties in the near future. The majority of the properties are holiday homes, commercial blocks, building plots and land. The loans on these properties were terminated by court decisions before 2011 – and Yiannos Stavrinides of the Cooperative Central Bank has stated that the Co-op is not going to foreclose on any primary residences.

The first foreclosures are expected in June 2016.

Total Property Sales Transactions – 2015/2016 Comparison

DistrictYearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Nicosia2015464583888661603765646054
201654


Famagusta2015162717172133451430293342
201622
Larnaca2015907198676811195758587111114
201678
Limassol2015959716011513513515687114166137169
201692
Paphos201574859494951241408891117105134
201681
Totals
2015321325452381405464496301385463446513
2016327

We will update this article with a further analysis of the sales statistics once they have been published by the Department of Lands and Surveys.

Readers' comments

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  • Jill says:

    Thanks for your comments Nigel but I’m confused here. Thought the whole point was that WE are applying for the Deeds, thus by-passing the developers and regardless of developments being unfinished or any other problems with the developer’s unpaid developer mortgages, etc., which have caused the problem in the first place!!

    So when did this change? It seems the goalposts have changed yet again.

    Hope your medical treatment is successful and you’re not feeling too poorly.

    (Editor’s comment: The developer can object to the transfer if the purchaser has not fulfilled his contractual obligations – in many cases that would include the payment of Immovable Property Tax. This is written into the law that you can download from http://www.news.cyprus-property-buyers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/hidden-mortgage-law.pdf (pages 18 – 29 are an English translation).

    The law does not cover situations where a developer has failed to complete a project.

    I’m feeling fine, the treatment is designed to stop a persistent problem I’ve now had four times from returning.)

  • Grant says:

    Just wondering… surely if one buys a property before December 2016, one should be entitled to the 50% reduction in Property Transfer Tax? Why does this title deeds saga continue to persist in Cyprus? What are the causes… the incompetence of the state and its civil servants; crushing red-tape; the malaise of endemic corruption? I’m so confused! The fact that a developer may have mortgaged land should have no consequence on a property buyer, especially one that has paid cash for a property, obtaining title deeds… Well this is my opinion.

    As much as I am ready and willing to buy, all this uncertainty is holding me back! The Cyprus authorities need to give this matter urgent priority as there are other European countries competing for foreign money in-flows!

    Money which could be flowing into Cyprus is landing up in the coffers of other countries; Portugal and Malta to name a few… Action is needed now!

    (Editor’s comment: As the law currently stands if you buy a property today you will only be entitled to a reduction in the Property Transfer Fees if the actual transfer takes place by 31st December 2016. (That will be a 50% reduction if you did not pay VAT on the purchase price of the property or a 100% reduction if you did pay VAT.) Why does the Title Deed saga persist? For all the reasons you’ve mentioned plus nefarious property developers, lawyers and estate agents.

    Regarding developer mortgages. The law changed a few years years ago and a purchaser can now pay an element of the mortgage to the lending bank that equates to the loan on the property he/she is purchasing in exchange for a ‘waiver’ from the bank removing any claim it may have against the property. The purchaser would then pay the balance to the vendor. If (say) the agreed sale price is €200,000 and the mortgage on the property is €30,000 – the purchaser pays the lending bank €30,000 and the vendor €170,000. But of course this only works if the vendor uses an honest lawyer who advises him of the mortgage.

    Up until now the authorities have been content to ‘tinker’ with the laws, but what it really needs is a complete redesign of the whole process – the current one is not fit for purpose.

    There are further issues with the enforcement of the law and planning regulations.

    These problems hit the headlines in 2007 with a UK television documentary and there have been constant reports in the media ever since. I know the first chap you see in the documentary – nine years later he still hasn’t got his deeds and the young couple you are are now sadly divorced.)

  • Jill says:

    Good news I suppose. Due, it is said to the 50% reduction in property transfer fees, etc. And, of course, all us Brits rushed to apply for our Title Deeds, got all the right paperwork required by Land Registry paid our 10 euros,(we did ours in October!) and then, as usual, nothing…..the silence is deafening!! We havn’t heard of one property owner in our area (Ayia Thekla, etc.) who has heard anything more or received Title Deeds!!

    Is this yet another time when we’ve been had…..don’t forget, it’s only if our Title Deeds come through by December that we’ll get the 50% reduction. So when can we expect to get them? Bearing in mind, we were probably one of the earliest to apply, as far as we’re aware. Would be interested to hear your comments please Nigel.

    (Editor’s comment: I ran a poll on the Eastern Forum at the start of last month. Some people who applied for the deeds and have received them.

    At the beginning of the year Land Registries had received more than 5,000 applications – the majority of which would have been from Cypriots. Bearing in mind that property sales to Cypriots accounts for around two-thirds of all sales, I expect that less than 2,000 of those would have been submitted by all other nationalities.

    How long it will take will depend on the complexity of the situation – how long is a piece of string. In some cases developer’s failed to apply and/or receive various permits, developments haven’t been completed, etc. One person wrote to me recently saying that the Forestry Department wanted a trifling sum as a contribution from her to plant a green area on the development before a Certificate of Final Completion could be issued – plus the District Office wanted more money for pavements (her developer is bankrupt).

    Other people have written to me saying their developer is demanding (trying to extort) huge sums from them alleging it’s for Immovable Property Tax, which they are contractually obliged to pay.

    Every case is different and I cannot say how long it will take for you to get the deeds.

    I have been invited to a meeting at the Dept. of Land & Surveys in Nicosia to discuss various issues encountered by those applying for their deeds. Unfortunately I’ve had to put the meeting on hold as I’m currently in the UK receiving medical treatment.)

  • Costas Apacket says:

    So foreclosure on mainly foreign owned homes whilst the usual suspect with NPL’s remain protected?

    More usual suspects to then snap up the foreigners homes for a song and the corrupt circle is complete

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