Property sales in got off to a flying start in 2022 according to official statistics from the Department of Lands and Surveys.
The total number of property sales (as measured by the number of contracts deposited at Land Registry offices) in January 2022 rose 67% compared to January 2021. This is the highest January figure on record since 2008.
The contracts will have included houses, apartments, commercial buildings and land.
In Paphos, 214 contracts were deposited at the Land Registry; an increase of 182% compared to the 76 deposited in January 2021.
In Larnaca, 150 contracts were deposited, compared to 93 in January 2021; an increase of 61%.
In Limassol, 276 contracts were deposited, compared to 159 in January 2021; an increase of 74%.
In Nicosia, 188 contracts were deposited, compared to 153 in January 2021; an increase of 23%
Finally, in Famagusta, the number of contracts deposited fell 18% to 27 compared with the 32 deposited in January 2021.
It’s possible that the record number of sales resulted from a last-minute dash by Cypriots looking to take advantage of the government’s interest rate subsidy scheme that concluded at the end of 2021. The scheme provided an interest subsidy of 1.5% for a period of four years for loans not exceeding €400,000 for house purchases.
Also, it’s likely that that the record figures include an unreported number of ‘non-sale’ agreements such as loan restructurings, recoveries and debt-to-asset swaps agreed between the banks and defaulting borrowers in efforts by the banks to reduce their non-performing loan portfolios.
(Although the number of debt-to-asset swaps isn’t published, some indication of their extent can be found in the quarterly accounts of the Bank of Cyprus. As the bank is the island’s largest lender it is likely that it has agreed more debt-to-asset swaps than other banks and financial institutions.)