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 is the number of transactions per district and if local buyers or foreign. Useful as it may be such a statistic it could be misleading in many respects.
Our own opinion is that such information could be utilized for the benefit of the building industry which will provide in addition a marketing guidance for developers and others (including the Government). This is very important since misleading information can lead to wrong decision in business. Since the data is there, we would suggest that the so far 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 as is so 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 (and by nationality) and local buyers. This is most important since the industry will learn where and at what level demand comes from. This sort of statistics will help also financiers to study more carefully finance applications based on actual demand, as opposed to the speculative expectations by all sorts of business/people.
- In the local transactions the E.U. members are classed as locals; hence no one knows how many Cypriots buy etc.
Living in our own small world, we seem that we do not learn by our mistakes of the past. And now that the market is showing some signs of recovery, there is a surge for new development projects which reflects a rather dangerous competition between developers “who will build the highest and most impressive building”. This real estate improvement is not Cypruswide however, but very much localized and restricted to certain areas and primarily beach locations. 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 after the next 2-3 years at the most and not later. We have also to keep an eye on the financiers whose investors are more of a short term nature, who might lead them to take 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 in order 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 Lands Office sets up a site which will accept contributors to finance the project and the information is sold (as nowadays is done for the sales information) to businesses.
We have written on the subject to the Ministry of Interior and we wait 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 own initiative to bring to the foreground this unexplored wealth 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 done) where results are evidently most positive and whose primary responsibility, among other matters is the title/passport issue, the recent Governmental laws, the Airbnb problem, the common expenses curse (non-payment) and other matters.