Property, apartment and detached house prices are expected to increase by seven to 12 per cent in the immediate future, the House Commerce Committee heard yesterday.
According to the head of the Land Registry Department, Andreas Christodoulou, Cyprus is the cheapest country in the European Union when it comes to properties, apartments, houses and land. For this reason, he added, many Europeans are interested in coming to Cyprus and investing in land and properties.
“From studies that were carried out by the Department, it appears that the value of land will increase when it comes to plots of land, apartments and detached homes, and this is mainly due to the great demand that exists from European citizens,” said Christodoulou.
He stressed that the increase in prices would be within a legal framework and it would be estimated at between seven and 12 per cent, depending on the area.
In some areas the price increase would be higher than in others, he added. Predictably, foreigners are more interested in coastal areas, said Christodoulou, adding that Paphos, Larnaca and more recently Limassol were most in demand with Europeans.
But the Chairman of the Commerce Committee, DISY’s Lefteris Christoforou pointed out that Cypriots are already finding it difficult to purchase a home, without there being further increases.
“We believe that the acquirement of a home is a social benefit of utmost importance and it is a citizen’s right to have easy access to the purchase of property,” said Christoforou.
The fact that today prices have reached new heights and Cypriot citizens are finding it difficult to acquire their own homes, he added, is a matter that should preoccupy the state itself, which is obliged to offer this social benefit with reasonable prices.
“Unfortunately, it is a clear observation that there is a problem where the increase in prices is concerned, resulting in the working and middle class Cypriot family finding it difficult to obtain it’s own home; something that was taken for granted in previous years,” Christoforou continued.
In the meantime, he promised the Commerce Committee would continue to fight for the simplification of existing bureaucratic procedures, either at the Town-planning Department or other state departments, so that the public can have easy and rapid access to the relevant licensing for the construction of first homes.
Head of the Town Planning Authority, Yiannos Papadopoulos told the committee that the increase in price and value of plots of land was down to the rise in demand. And this is not because there is not enough land in housing zones but it appears to be due to the non-availability of land in these zones.
”For this reason we have suggested the need for mechanisms that will activate land, which is unused within housing zones”, Papadopoulos explained. This, he said, would involve urban redistribution – which is already partly under way and under evaluation by the Attorney-general – and the activation of land with the preparation of traffic webs for various city areas.
He also pointed out the need to examine the motives behind land-owners’ insistence on holding unused land.
Referring to the chaos that has consumed the town planning department over the past two years, due to the increase in applications for town-planning permits, Papadopoulos said the department was already processing a new programme with the Interior Ministry, which by 2007 will give them the ability to issue licences within three months of application.
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2006