DEPARTMENT of Lands and Surveys published yesterday show that the number of contracts for the sale of property deposited at Land Registries throughout Cyprus in August fell for the fourteenth consecutive month.
However, the 4.9% fall in sales is the smallest for almost a year giving hope that the devastating decline may soon be coming to an end. Last month 527 contracts were deposited compared with the 554 deposited in August 2010.
Limassol performed well, with sales up 25.5%. Larnaca also saw an increase, with the number of sales rising by 2.6%. But sales in Nicosia, the capital, fell by 22.5%, while those in Famagusta fell by 21.4% and those in Paphos fell by 15.8%.
Total sales during the first eight months of this year stand at 4,709, a decline of 18.2% on the 5,759 sold in the first eight months last year. Sales are now down more than 8% on those of 2009; the year the market collapsed.
So far this year, Limassol seems to have escaped the general downturn with sales just 1.7% below those of last year. But in Larnaca sales have fallen by 29.3%, in Paphos they are down 24.4%, in Famagusta they are down 21.6% and sales in Nicosia have fallen by 21.3%.
OVERSEAS buyers now account for some 25% of the Island’s total property sales. However, this increase is due to the collapse of the domestic market rather than an increase in interest by foreigners as reported elsewhere.
Overseas property sales fell by 22% in August to just 99; the lowest number since January 2010. Although sales were up in Larnaca by 52.6% and by 16.7% in Nicosia, they were down 57.1% in Limassol, 32.5% in Paphos and 21.4% in Famagusta.
Total overseas sales during the first eight months of the year were 1,197; a fall of 2.0% on the 1,222 sold in the first eight months of last year.
Property valuer Polys Kourousides believes that the downturn will continue. “I don’t think that things will change in the next months. Limassol recorded an increase in August due to the purchase of properties by non-Cypriots, Russians mostly”, he said.
Antonis Loizou, the boss of Antonis Loizou & Associates, believes that the downturn is due to the economic conditions and the downgrading of the banks by the ratings agencies, which affect foreign investment. “If uncertainty continues, property prices might be reduced further”, he said.
Commenting on parliament’s approval to cut VAT for first-time buyers to 5%, Mr Loizou said that it will be helpful but it is not expected to contribute significantly to the sector. Mr Kourousides said that the VAT cut will give a boost to those buying big houses, but for 1-bedroom or 2-bedroom apartments things will remain the same.