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House prices drop, bad loans rise

In April we reported that the price of property in Cyprus had fallen by more that nine percent during 2010; our figures were based on the RICS (Cyprus) Property Price Index. In its latest Economic Bulletin, the Central Bank paints a somewhat rosier picture.

PRICES of houses and apartments fell 2.5 per cent last year and property prices are expected to fall another 2.5 per cent this year as fewer Cypriots buy homes, the Central Bank has said.

Even though transactions involving foreign buyers rose 15.7 per cent in the first four months of 2011 compared to the same period last year, they will not be sufficient to offset the overall decline in demand, the Central Bank said in its semi-annual economic bulletin this week.

Prices for houses and apartments fell in the fourth quarter of 2010 2.6 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively compared to the year before. The biggest drop in house prices was observed in Limassol where they fell 4.8 per cent. For apartments, the worst hit was Famagusta district where they fell 4.2 per cent.

Prices for commercial properties also fell, the Central Bank said. Offices were sold for 3.4 per cent less, while prices for shops and warehouses fell island-wide on average 2.5 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively.

Rents for all categories of buildings fell in the last quarter last year. The steepest decline was for houses which fell 6.1 per cent last year followed by apartments with a 5.5 per cent drop. Rents for warehouses, shops and offices decreased 4.2 per cent, 3.8 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively, according to the Central Bank of Cyprus.

As construction activity is also in decline, a further slump in the housing market could put Cyprus’ financial system at risk, the central bank acknowledges. This could in turn result in a further “notable” drop in home prices.

Even though such an event could lead to a drop in household wealth, and further threaten financial stability, the “likelihood remains low, although it rose slightly compared to 2010”, the supervisory authority of the banking system said.

While economic recovery remains “fragile”, bad loans are on the rise as households and companies alike are increasingly unable to service their debts.

Non-performing household loans rose in March to 8.4 per cent, up from 7.9 per cent the year before, according to the Central Bank. The share of company loans which had not been serviced for more than three months rose to 9.1 per cent in March from 7.4 per cent the year before.

The above figures do not include fully collateralised loans of more than three months in arrears. As foreclosures can take up to ten years in Cyprus, an inclusion of fully collateralised non-serviced loans in the bad loan statistics would result in higher figures.

Editor’s comment

THE Central Bank’s figures are somewhat out of line with those to come out of the RICS (Cyprus) Property Price Index.

The RICS figures showed that in 2010 prices of apartments and houses fell by 11.2% and 7.4% respectively, with an average falls over the year of more than 9%.

Worst hit areas were Paralimni/Famagusta, where apartment prices slumped 23.2% and Larnaca, where house prices fell by 13.2%.

Readers' comments

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  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @ Mike. I agree with most of your comments but I’m not so sure the people of Greece (and of Cyprus) are really innocent in respect of the imminent financial and economic tsunami. Like kids let loose in a tuck shop for several decades, they have become addicted to all the sweeties at zero, low or deferred costs all on tick. Now the tuck shop is suddenly closing and all the debts have to be paid, the populace has painful withdrawal symptoms. They must bear some share of the responsibility for continuing to support their governments’ imprudent economic and financial policies for so long.

    Just a point on Tariq Aziz. Tariq Aziz was the Iraqi Foreign Minister. The Information Minister dubbed Comical Ali for his crass statements about the allies never getting near Baghdad was Saed al-Sahhaf. Ali Hassan al-Majid al-Tikriti was the Defence Minister dubbed Chemical Ali for his use of chemical weapons against the Kurds e.g. in Halabja.

  • Mike says:

    Martyn seems to have this just about covered.

    I may be an old sceptic but I don’t suppose this could be another spin in the old tried & tested Finance Ministry style could it?

    Tariq Aziz or Chemical Ali as he preferred to be known was a past master at this in the final days of the Saddam Hussein regime, his reports were laughable even when showing American tanks rolling past him in Baghdad he was claiming the Republican Guard will drive them into the sea as soon as they stepped onto Iraqi soil. The analogy is the same. The frightening thing was the contempt he held his people in as he actually expected them to believe everything he said. Such delusions of adequacy seem hard to comprehend.

    So very sad for the people of Cyprus, Greece & Iraq, they are the innocent ones (well almost) in all this but I guess we have had donkeys before we can use them again. Who needs Mercedes & BMW.

  • Martyn says:

    ‘As construction activity is also in decline, a further slump in the housing market could put Cyprus’ financial system at risk, the central bank acknowledges’

    Ah, after a couple or so years of general denial across Cyprus the Central Bank gets to the core of all this -with an economy based largely on Tourism and Property & Construction, an overblown/overpaid Government sector and many banks known to be highly engaged with lending in Greece the future looks increasingly bleak, especially as Greece spirals towards abject social/economic collapse and ever-more- likely departure from the Euro to a highly devalued New Drachma.

    One has to wonder where for little ol’ Cyprus all this might lead………

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