UNFORTUNATELY, despite the fact that we have had many bad experiences when selling property to foreigners, we haven’t learnt our lesson.
We treat the subject very lightly and then when something goes wrong, we rush to deal with it, by which time it is too late.
A prime example was the event that took place at the exhibition “A Place in the Sun” in London, when Conor O’Dwyer protested outside the exhibition together with his family. O’Dwyer maintained that he bought property in the free area of Famagusta, which was sold for a second time by the developer without his knowledge and he lost money.
We are sure that before O’Dwyer resorted to the protest outside the property exhibition, he must have tried other forms of protest to be heard but had been unsuccessful.
And it is here that the relevant government authorities have a responsibility. If they were as methodical as the private sector and reacted openly and immediately, then we are sure that the problem would have been solved right from the beginning and there would have been no need for the protest in London.
This particular type of incident is not unique. We have seen reports of similar incidents in the past. And it is such incidents that discredit Cyprus internationally, wiping out any gains that have resulted from promotions and advertising that unfortunately only the private sector pays for.
Since we want to promote Cyprus as a destination to buy and invest in property, we should sort out these problems at their root and not let the situation get out of hand in the way that happened recently in London.
The state should intervene dynamically and the Interior Ministry which is responsible for this sector should place this specific problem under its scrutiny. Furthermore, it should take the necessary steps to ensure that such unacceptable incidents never happen again.
We will go one step further and propose that a relevant service be set up that will function correctly and pre-emptively in such instances.
At the same time, the necessary funds should be made available so that we can promote Cyprus in the property sector abroad. And why not, we should combine this with promoting Cyprus as a tourist destination and in this way also promote holiday homes. This should be a joint effort with developers who are also promoting Cyprus extensively.
Finally, it is sad that on the one hand millions are spent on publicity to promote Cyprus and great efforts are being made to deal with the problems of Title Deeds, while on the other hand it is all blown away by a single incident such as the one experienced in London and for which Cyprus earned the name “a shame in the sun”.
George Mouskides is Chairman of the Association for the Promotion of Property Development and Manager of Fox Smart Estate Agency.