Revival in mountain village real estate

4 mins read

The pandemic has some positive benefits, which include the locals learning the beauty and attraction of our mountain resorts.

This is especially so by the younger generation (age 20-30) who very rarely visited these resorts in the past, preferring to stay at beach hotels and establishments, the more affluent going on cruise holidays, especially the Greek islands, as well visiting other European countries.

For the first time, we noticed during this summer so many young people visiting these resorts, with hotels reaching unexpected occupancy rates, whereas local restaurants had experienced a “boom” in their business.

“Never had it so good,” a Platres restaurant/café owner told us and “we now have two sittings during the evening in addition to lunchtime”.

What is also interesting is that there is now an increasing interest for the resorts loss-making hotels and during this year 3 hotels were sold at Platres, whereas there are new enquiries for other resorts, such as Troodos/ Kakopetria.

Besides, visits of locals to the northern Paphos region (Polis) has produced several positive comments by visitors as if it is another country.

For us (the older generation) it comes as no surprise, but then we grew up with such visits, it is not new to us.

Local entrepreneurs are improving their quality of service, upgrading their menu and variety.

Short distances being what they are, you must have noticed the large café roadside restaurants run mainly by families, which are full of customers during weekend lunchtime.

The more open-minded and adventurous operators provide live music (not bad at all) during evening hours at weekends.

What is also interesting is that hotel and restaurants charge on average for the full meze type of food at €20 p.p. (including local wine).

And “newly” discovered natural trails in the forest areas are most attractive for families, including bicycle riding, motorbike excursions and so on.

We were surprised by visiting the Larnaca mountain region (Lefkara, Vavatsinia, Kato Drys) which is a joy of nature, especially the “scenic road” connecting Lefkara village with Cornos village with most interesting geological “pyramids”.

Interesting to note is that these mountainous resorts have upgraded their charges (coupled with quality) with one restaurant/hotel charging €50 p.p. with a waiting list, nearby others charge less than half the price.  So quality pays.

The new (expected) Limassol-Lania road, will cause an increase in demand, whereas the much-awaited Paphos-Polis highway, will do wonders for this comparatively poor Polis region.

There is an increasing interest for real estate demand, whose value is based mainly on the natural beauty (especially pine locations) as well as houses in such localities of an average price of €200,000-€300,000.

If the pandemic continues through 2021, we expect the interest will increase adding economic life to the local operators and others, including increased demand for real estate.

Apart from the expected improved access, the increasing temperature is helping towards the decision of living in a cooler climate in the mountain resorts.

Apartments/houses of basic quality, but in good repair and with furniture are let nowadays for €300 p.m. (yearly lease), whereas a year ago it was €220/p.m. at best (2 bedrooms).

Daily lets provide a much higher income, but it requires management on the spot, whereas replacement of equipment and maintenance is a problem due to the lack of skilled labour and craftsmen.

Because nature pays, those who buy land/property and before they cut the trees and level the hill slopes, start planting the area/plot with pine trees (local version) with 3m height trees which may cost around €100/plant, but you get 3-4 years ahead of the small trees given free by the Forestry Department (with unknown future results).

Try to plant cedar trees which are a beauty to look at (see Karvounas road), but it takes 12-18 years to reach their full beauty.

Seek the advice of the Forestry Department who will bend over backwards (based on our experience) to help.

Should you buy a plot at the mountain resorts bear in mind the following basic parameters:

  • Check the slope, which depending on the incline, it costs a lot of money to make it suitable for building.
  • If not within the residential zone, make sure that you have passage access and availability of services such as electricity/water.
  • Check internet availability and mobile connection.
  • Compare building costs with the new design of steel structures vis-à-vis the traditional timber structures also (but do not necessarily go for the cowboy/log type of houses, which is a young person dream, but it has problems).

If you buy a ready home check:

  • Stability of the structure and pay particular attention to the roof and damp insulation.
  • The sewage situation and the absorption pit.
  • Heating is a major issue, and you can opt for the on the wall, mounted electric units in addition to the most romantic open fireplace.
  • Double glazing installation and the subsidies on the external insulation should also be explored.
  • Insure your property from vacant periods and bush-fire

Things are moving in the real estate market; an added indication is the recent sale of the Berengaria Hotel.

If you are getting on in age, make sure that you provide a private lift, whereas parking availability is a seasonal problem.

Houses with an attractive appearance (preferably stone-built) or using the Karystos stone facing is an option as is the availability of a BBQ area for entertainment.

We expect real estate values to improve by at least 10%-15% in 2021, it will depend on the economic situation of the country.

So, there you are a new real estate market is re-born and keeping our fingers crossed these mountainous and distant regions, will have a better future.

Building cost is higher than urban areas which could amount to approximately €1.500/sqm, plus civil works, an average building plot of around 600 sqm may have a sales price of €50,000-€100,000 (depending on location and topographical characteristics).

Target residential units and avoid commercial ones e.g. shops, unless you operate the business yourself.

Similarly, hotel/tourist establishments have an unpredictable income with many ups and downs, a high-risk investment whose income may not pay and may need the subsidy of the owner’s other businesses.

My father (A. Loizou), one of the Platres hotel operators (Pavlos Loizou), could hardly make ends meet during the downturn of the mountain resorts (the 1980s) when he decided to move to the town with the rest of us, he died within 2 years of loneliness without “the pine trees”.

So, there you are, to consider an alternative investment, which offers unpredictable pleasures and family living.