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An unexplored resource

By Antonis Loizou
The Department of Lands and Surveys is the repository of a lot of information regarding sales and other matters relating to real estate.

But since the publication of the basic statistics a few years ago, no attempt has been made to expand the data received, with the only information given being the number of transactions per district, and whether buyers happened to be local or foreign purchasers. And useful as it may be to have this data available, such statistics could be misleading in many respects.

Our own opinion is that such information could be utilised for the benefit of the building industry, which, additionally, will provide a guide to marketing for developers and other related parties, including those from the Government. This is very important, give that misleading information can lead to making the wrong decision in a business transaction.

Thus, since the data has already been provided, we are suggesting that the information so far received should be expanded to include:
*    Number of sales per district
*    Number of sales per town/parish
*    Nature of property sold (e.g. field, flat, shop, office)
*    Value of the property sold, since as it is presently recorded, a hotel sale is classed as one sale and a studio sale is also classed as one sale
*    The value of the sale could also be further sorted into foreign (and here determining the purchaser’s specific nationality) and local buyers. This is most important, since the industry will learn where and at what level demand arises from. This type of data will also assist financiers to study more carefully finance applications based on actual demand, as opposed to the speculative expectations by all manner of business/people.

Unfortunately, living in our own small world in Cyprus, it appears that we never learn from the mistakes we have made in the past. And now that the market is showing some signs of a recovery, there has been a surge for new development projects, which also reflects a rather dangerous competition between developers as to ‘who will build the highest and most impressive building’.

This uptick in real estate has not been seen Cyprus-wide, however, but is very much localised and restricted to certain areas – which are primarily beach locations. The visas/passports measure is all very well, but the warning signs from the European Union (not to mention the proposal to harmonise the EU tax system – a development which would be all the worse for Cyprus) are there.

So, the general caution we would offer is: do not rush to jump aboard the golden gravy train, since it can be dangerous – especially if a project is developed/delivered after the next two to three years at the most, and not beyond.

We have also to keep an eye on the financiers, whose investors are more of a short-term nature, and who might lead them to take decisions for their investors’ benefit – and why not? – rather than for the benefit of the economy as a whole.

For these reasons, we need to use all the available data that we have access to in order to protect the real-estate sector from the known and unknown factors that affect our economy.

After all, it is a great shame to have all this information in hand and not to use it. If money is the problem, we suggest that the Land Registry Office sets up a site that will accept contributors to finance the project and for the information to be sold to businesses, as is commonly done these days, with regards to sales data.

We have written on this subject to the Ministry of Interior, and await some form of answer, whereas the various professional associations, business associations and others are nowhere to be found in this effort. What a shame!

Antonis Loizou and Associates LTD Property Valuers and Property Consultants, www.aloizou.com.cy, nicosia@aloizou.com.cy

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