2016 Property Sales Massive Increase

Tue, 10 Jan 2017

THE DEPARTMENT of Land and Surveys reported an almost unbelievable 121 per cent rise in the number of property sales contracts deposited at Land Registry offices across Cyprus during December compared with December 2015. This 121% rise follows a 46% rise in November, a 37% increase in October and a 50% increase in September bringing the annual increase to 43%; the largest year-on-year rise for the past decade. Of the 1,134 contracts, 780 (69%) were deposited by domestic (Cypriot) purchasers, while 31% (354) were deposited by overseas (non-Cypriot) purchasers. Part of the increase is probably accounted for by those taking advantage of the concession introduced in 2015 exempting those who bought property by 31st December 2016 from paying Capital Gains Tax regardless of when they sold the property. However, we also know that an unknown number of these property sales contracts relate to ‘non-sale’ agreements such as loan restructurings, recoveries and debt-to-asset swaps agreed between the banks and defaulting borrowers. As the Department of Lands & Surveys does not record these ‘non-sale’ agreements separately, the figures presented do not accurately reflect the real number of property sales. We can only hope that the Department of Lands & Surveys will amend its statistics to separate actual sale contracts from ‘non-sale’ agreements so that an accurate picture can be presented, which will benefit both the property industry and those who may be considering buying property on the island. Sales rose in all district compared with December 2015. In percentage terms Nicosia led the way with sales up 156%, followed by Limassol, where sales rose by 156%. Meanwhile, sales in Paphos, Famagusta and Larnaca rose by 137%, 107% and 18% respectively.

Annual performance During 2016 domestic sales rose 46% compared with 2015, with sales increasing in all districts. In percentage terms sales in Limassol over the year rose by 61% and in Paphos they rose by 46%. Meanwhile sales in Nicosia, Famagusta and Larnaca rose by 38%, 37% and 31% respectively. Overseas property sales Property sales to the overseas (non-Cypriot) market, which are unaffected by ‘non-sale’ agreements during December rose 162% compared with December 2015 with 354 properties sold compared with 135 in the same month last year. Overseas sales rose in all district compared with December 2015. In percentage terms Famagusta led the way with sales up 1400% (having sold just one property in December 2015) followed by Paphos, where sales rose by 227%. Meanwhile, sales in Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca rose by 180%, 172% and 18% respectively.

Year to date performance During 2016 sales to the overseas (non-Cypriot) market were up 34% compared with  2015, with sales reaching 1,813 compared with 1,349. Sales since 2000 Sales in 2007, immediately before the property bubble burst, reached 21,245. In 2013 sales reached their lowest on record at 3,767. In 2014 sales rose 20% to reach 4,527 and in 2015 they rose 9% to reach 4,952. In 2016 combined sales and ‘non-sales’’ reached 7,073, slightly more than 2011.

It appears that a recovery in the property market is underway. But there is still a long way to go before sales reach 12,664; the number sold in the year 2000.

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