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Sale prices and celebrities

By Antonis Loizou

In Greece, it is common for a rather large-scale development project to offer, either for free or next to nothing, a unit to a celebrity, in order to attract the star worshippers willing to pay a premium, depending on how close their property might be to the celebrity’s home.

For our part, and having lived in Cyprus for so many years, we have never placed an added value to such scenarios, but then, we have been proven wrong. There are all kinds of celebrities, both of the international and local variety. Perhaps we could place a value if, say, Madonna, or Lady Gaga, etc., bought into a project but, to have a frame of reference, local names are quite different.

At a project in Limassol, comprised of a most attractive apartment block by the beach, the developer had 60% of the units unsold for six months during 2009. And then, all of a sudden, we were informed that only 30% is left to be sold. Asking for the reason for such an upsurge in sales in these difficult times, we were informed that two well-known Greek singers (male and female) and one composer, all born in Cyprus, had “bought” units. That was enough to lure the type of people who like this sort of thing, hence the sales which followed.

In Greece, for a project that we were managing, we were approached by a celebrity’s agent to get us to offer her a home as a gift, in return for using her name in the ads and even for her to make a few appearances in the project’s communal club or pool. We turned the offer down (the value of the desired gift was approximately €1 mil.). Was it a mistake on our part? She eventually invested in another location on similar terms and that project has now been splashed across the popular gossip magazines, while a private TV channel has produced a series of “chat and sing” programmes on location.

This shows our age, but should we ever place a value on this variety of “buyer” we would target politicians mainly, such as Bill Clinton and even Tony Blair. The latter’s holidays in Italy made Tuscany even more popular with other British politicians, high-income earners and so on. His example was followed by David Cameron, adding value to the area and causing rental and capital prices to increase accordingly. Even the restaurants that such former British statesmen visit are a point of reference, and advertised as such on the menus with the note “British prime minister’s preferred dish”.

Meanwhile, in an earlier column, we had mentioned that another celebrity (a physician) with his own TV programme, also in the UK, was promoting a Paphos project featuring retirement homes. In pricey British adverts he says that if he could have had this “on the NHS” he would have certainly subscribed to it.
On a separate note, a huge project under development in the Protaras area, comprised of 250 units, and featuring all kinds of sports and leisure facilities, is being promoted by an international Premier League footballer. You might think: ‘Who cares?’, but then you would also be wrong.

It appears that people with money, who are unaffected by the recession, include both the sports personalities who make more money than they can spend, but also many other “crazy” individuals, who place such a high value on being close to their favourite stars that they are willing to pay handsomely. (We must admit that had David Beckham shown up at the project’s bar, we would have done our best to say a hello – but we would certainly not pay an extra, say, €20,000 for an apartment in the block). The same celebrity bought a house on Palm Island, Dubai – with good promotional results.

To be fair, celebrity names are important in most other countries, too, and, during a recent search in London, the agent stressed repeatedly that a flat in the apartment block once belonged to Sir Laurence Olivier. So, in keeping with the spirit of the holiday season, we asked several of our staff and friends their list of celebrities who, if living or having lived nearby, would make it worth paying a premium for a unit in a particular property. The celebrity breakdown was as follows:

– Winston Churchill (picked by history lovers)
– François Mitterrand (chosen by rights activists)
– Konstantinos Karamanlis (by those nostalgic for Greece in better times)
– Adolf Hitler (by those wanting to charge their visitors)
– Bill Clinton (for the sex appeal)
– David Beckham (by the sporty types)
– Anna Vissi/Giorgos Theophanous (by dreamers)
– Berlusconi (for the beautiful women who would surely follow)
– Sean Connery (the macho choice)

For my part, I could place some value in an apartment owned by Elton John -provided he didn’t practise his piano while I was there… Incidentally, John has stayed in the Anassa Hotel’s special suite, as has Tom Jones. We understand that, since then, the suite commands a special premium among those guests wanting a brush with the “aura” of these artists.

Anotnis Loizou & Associates LTD Property Valuers & Property Consultans, www.aloizou.com.cy

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