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Friday 7th May 2021
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Covid-19 impacting overseas property sales

Property sales in Cyprus to the overseas market continue to be hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and are unlikely to improve substantially until it becomes easier for foreigners to travel to Cyprus.

Positive news

Last month Cyprus signed agreements with Greece and Israel to ease travel restrictions allowing citizens with Covid-19 vaccination certificates to travel unimpeded between the three countries.

Just a few days ago Cyprus announced it will allow British tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 into the country without restrictions from 1 May.

However, under the UK’s current COVID-19 restrictions, it is illegal to travel abroad for holidays or leisure purposes. But if the UK government is satisfied that its four tests are being met, the earliest date people from England will be able to travel overseas for a holiday, including Cyprus,  is 17 May, when the country moves in to step three of its lockdown exit plan.

As Pavlos Loizou noted in his recent article, as Cyprus was in lockdown during the first three weeks of January, the Land Registry was understaffed, several transfers and deposits were moved to February. As you will see below, domestic sales are holding their own in the face of the pandemic.

February sales figures

During February a total of 646 property sale contracts were deposited at Land Registry offices across Cyprus. Of those 646, 70% (454) were deposited by Cypriot buyers and 30% (192) by foreigners.

EU citizens accounted for 14% (92) sales, while non-EU citizens accounted for 15% (100) sales.

Total Cyprus Property Sale Transactions - February 2021
Total Property Sale Transactions – 2020/2021 Comparison

Domestic property sales

In February, property sales to the domestic market performed well despite the Covid-19 restrictions, rising by 13% compared to February 2020.

Domestic Cyprus Property Sale Transactions - February 2021
Domestic Property Sale Transactions – 2020/2021 Comparison

Sales to EU Citizens

Property sales in February declined by 29%, mainly due to the Covid-19 restrictions imposed by their home countries and Cyprus. If efforts to contain the pandemic go well, as these restrictions ease more visitors to the island should encourage more sales.

Cyprus Property Sale Transactions to EU Citizens - February 2021
Foreign (EU) Property Sale Transactions – 2020/2021 Comparison

Sales to non-EU citizens

Property sales to non-EU citizens declined 52% in February compared to February 2020. These have been hit by a double whammy; the Covid-19 restrictions and the cancellation of Cyprus’ citizenship-by-investment (aka Golden Passport) scheme last November.

A bill laying out revised criteria for citizenship has been submitted to the Cyprus parliament. According to the bill, applicants must be legally residing in the republic for the last 12 months, and for 10 years prior to their application with a total time spent on the island of not less than seven years during that period plus a number of other conditions.

Currently foreign nationals can apply for residency using the fast-track or the normal procedure.

The fast-track procedure grants permanent residence status to foreign nationals who purchase of a property sold for the first time, which is worth at least €300,000. They must also make a three-year fixed deposit of €30,000 in a Cyprus bank and must visit Cyprus to provide their biometric data and visit the country every two years.

The normal procedure grants permanent residence status to foreign nationals who have been continuously and legally resident in Cyprus for five years.

Cyprus Property Sale Transactions to Non-EU Citizens - February 2021
Foreign (Non-EU) Property Sale Transactions – 2020/2021 Comparison

Analysis of property sales since 2000

Cyprus Property Sale Contracts 2000 – 2021

Year Overseas Sales Domestic Sales Percentage
Overseas Sales
Total Sales
2000 450 12,214 3.6% 12,664
2001 1,207 12,849 8.6% 14,056
2002 2,548 14,111 15.3% 16,659
2003 3,981 15,294 20.7% 19,275
2004 5,384 11,947 31.1% 17,331
2005 6,485 10,106 39.1% 16,591
2006 8,355 8,598 49.3% 16,953
2007 11,281 9,964 53.1% 21,245
2008 6,636 8,031 45.2% 14,667
2009 1,761 6,409 21.6% 8,170
2010 2,030 6,568 23.6% 8,598
2011 1,652 5,366 23.5% 7,018
2012 1,476 4,793 23.5% 6,269
2013 1,017 2,750 27.0% 3,767
2014 1,193 3,334 26.4% 4,527
2015 1,349 3,603 27.2% 4,952
2016
1,813 5,250 25.7% 7,063
2017
2,406 6,328 27.5% 8,734
20181 4,367 4,875 47.3% 9,242
2019
4,482 5,884 43.2% 10,366
2020
2,985 4,983 37.5% 7,968
2021 (Feb)
360 799 31.1% 1,159
Totals
73,218 164,056 30.9% 237,274

1 The Department of Lands & Surveys has advised that overseas sales in 2018 and subsequent year should not be compared to sales in previous years due to changes in the methodology used to classify ‘Aliens’ (foreigners).

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