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Access to detailed property sales data is vital

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The Department of Lands & Surveys is the recipient of a lot of information regarding sales and other matters relating to real estate.

Since the publication of the basic statistics a few years ago, little attempt has been made to expand on the information received, with the main information given being on the number of transactions per district and whether buyers are local or foreign.

Useful as it may be, such statistics could be misleading in many respects.

Our opinion is that such information could be utilised for the benefit of the building industry to provide additional marketing guidance for developers and others (including the Government).

This is very important since misleading information can lead to the wrong decision in business.

Since the data is there, we would suggest that the range of statistics given 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 this is also recorded, now, a hotel sale is classed as one sale and a studio sale is also classed as one sale
  • The value of sales could also be classed by foreign (nationality) and local buyers. This is most important since the industry will learn where and at what level demand comes from. This sort of statistic will help financiers to study more carefully finance applications based on actual demand, as opposed to the speculative expectations by all sorts of people.
  • In the local transactions, E.U. nationals are classed as locals; hence no one knows how many Cypriots buy etc.

Living in our own small world we seem not to be learning from our mistakes of the past.

And now that the market is showing some signs of a recovery, there is a surge for new development projects which reflects rather dangerous competition between developers “who will build the highest and most impressive building”.

This real estate improvement is not Cyprus-wide however, but very much localized and restricted to certain areas and primarily beach locations.

Passports

The visas/passports measure is all the best, but the warning signs from the E.U. (and including the proposal to harmonize the tax system in the E.U. – are all the worst for Cyprus) are there.

To this end, our small politics and following the E.U. warnings regarding the passport issue, as well as increasing competition by similar investment schemes (see Greece) has caused a recent reduction of interest by this market source.

So, do not rush to jump on the golden train of wealth since it can be dangerous especially if a project is developed/disposed of after the next 2-3 years at the most.

We must also keep an eye on the financiers whose investors are more of a short term nature, who might lead them to make decisions for their investors’ benefits (why not?) and not for the benefit of the economy as a whole.

For these reasons (and others) we need to use all available data that we have to protect the business of real estate from the known and unknown reasons that affect our economy.

It is a great shame having all this information in hand and not using it.

If money is the problem we suggest that the Land Registry sets up a site which will accept contributors to finance the project and sale of information (as nowadays is done for the sales information) to businesses.

We have written on the subject to the Ministry of Interior and we wait for some sort of an answer, whereas the various professional associations, business associations and others are nowhere to be found in this effort.

What a shame!!

We had a recent meeting with Central Bank officials on the subject and who promised that they will undertake some sort of initiative to bring to the foreground this unexplored wealth of information.

This is another reason why we have suggested as a matter of urgency, to appoint a deputy minister for the Ministry of Interior (as the Tourism and Shipping have successfully done) whose primary responsibility, amongst other matters is the title/passport issue, the recent Government laws, the Airbnb problem, the common expenses curse (non-payment) and other issues.