Our top 10 property stories for 2020 are set against a background of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has plunged our planet into a health and humanitarian crisis, resulting in disruptions to businesses and livelihoods, and restrictions on our personal freedoms.
Cyprus Property News has not been immune to the impact of the pandemic. Our visitor numbers have fallen to just over 500,000; a 30% fall compared to last year.
As we approach the festive season, which will be unlike any we’ve experienced in the past, here are the top 10 stories that have attracted the most interest from you, our readers, over the past 12 months:
Number 1: Historic collapse of property sales – News that the COVID-19 pandemic had put the island’s real estate market into deep freeze, with the number of sales falling by 80% in April compared to April 2019.
By the end of November sales had recovered and are now down 24% compared to last year.
Number 2: Cyprus sold passports to criminals and fugitives – A report that Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit had obtained more than 1,400 approved Cypriot passport applications, some of which showed passports were sold to criminals and fugitives.
A few days later the Interior Minister called Al Jazeera’s ‘probe’ a smear campaign, implying that the ‘old enemy’ Turkey was involved in an attempt to wrongly discredit Cyprus.
Following further reports and a damning video by Al Jazeera, two very senior politicians were forced to resign, Cyprus’ “Golden Passport” scheme was terminated, a police investigation was launched and the European Commission launched infringement procedures against Cyprus regarding its “Golden Passport” scheme.
Number 3: The Cyprus property market will rebound in 2021 – A prediction by Panos Danos, the CEO of Danos/BNP Paribas Real Estate, that island’s real estate market will bounce back in 2021.
His prediction came in April, long before Cyprus’ “Golden Passport” scheme was terminated.
We’ll find out next year whether Mr Danos’ prediction is correct.
Number 4: Corrupt lawyers continue to plunder estates – Despite the abolition of the Cyprus Bar Association’s ‘Minimum Fee Regulations’ in 2018 following a successful complaint to the European Commission, I received several reports from co-executors and beneficiaries of deceased family members the lawyers were still charging the deceased’s estate based on the abolished regulations.
Further developments aimed at totally abolishing this illegal practice are expected in 2021.
Number 5: Foreign property sales take a big hit – The lockdown measures introduced to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic also hit the overseas market hard in April with sales falling 71% compared to the April 2019.
By the end of November sales to the overseas market had recovered and are now down 34% compared to last year.
Number 6: Cyprus house price index falls 2.9 per cent – News from the Cyprus Statistical Service (CySTAT) in October that house prices rose 0.3% in the third quarter of 2020 compared with the second quarter, but fell by 2.9% on an annual basis.
However, the RICS Cyprus assessment of residential houses and apartments values reported they fell during the second quarter of 2020 compared to the previous quarter but rose on an annual basis.
However, the Central Bank of Cyprus “Residential Property Price Index” (RPPI) for the second quarter of 2020 reported a rise in both quarterly and annual prices.
The jury’s still out on which one is correct.
Number 7: 30-year Paphos marina saga continues – News that the Ministry of Tourism that the process to secure the services of a consultant to examine the proposal of establishing a combined marina and cruise ship docking facility in Kissonerga in Paphos.
The Paphos marina, which has been stalled by bureaucracy and legal battles for more than 30 years, is unlikely to get off the ground for many years.
Number 8: Property sales collapse hits all markets – News that the collapse in sales in April, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has affected all markets, with sales to the domestic market falling 85% and sales to the overseas market falling by 71% compared to April 2019.
At the time, Panos Danos said “The effects of the pandemic on Cyprus real estate are intensifying” noting that “Demand from abroad, which has led to a market recovery in recent years, primarily in Limassol and Paphos, is now almost non-existent.”
Number 9: Guide to residency in Cyprus – A message from the British High Commission in Nicosia advising all Britons living in Cyprus that a brown residency booklet, a blue slip, a pink slip, an ARC, an old residency stamp in a UK passport issued before 2004 are outdated and no longer valid.
All Britons wishing to remain in Cyprus must apply for an appropriate MEU residency document if they wish to remain in Cyprus after the end of this year.
Number 10: Upward trend in property price index slows – A report from the Cyprus News Agency advising that although property prices were rising, the pace of the rise had slowed.
The Cyprus Central Bank attributed the slowdown to the reduced demand from foreign investors due to stricter provisions introduced to the Cyprus Investment Programme (which was subsequently terminated following the Al Jazeera Investigative Unit report.)
Music video of the year
As regular readers may have noticed, I gave Cyprus Property News a new coat of paint during lockdown and I hope you enjoy the new look.
This year I’ve chosen a video of “Ride of the Valkyries”, one of the most famous scenes from Wagner’s Die Walkure.
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a
Happy and Healthy 2021 free of COVID-19