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Cyprus property sales expected to fall in 11

Residential property sales on Cyprus are expected to continue to fall in 2011, a survey suggests.

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According to Nigel Howath, an independent property adviser who publishes Cyprus Property News, 83% of the 1,060 readers who expressed an opinion in his recent poll believe property sales "will continue to fall” for the rest of the year, after tumbling 15% in the first quarter of 2011 compared with the same period a year earlier.

Property sales in Cyprus peaked in 2007, when more than 21,000 properties were sold — of which more than 11,000 were purchased by overseas buyers. Last year only 8,598 changed hands, of which just 2,030 were bought by overseas buyers, although this was slightly more than the year before, Howath said.

Yesterday, Cyprus’s Department of Lands & Surveys revealed that the number of properties sold in April slipped to the lowest level since January 2009, with the number — 542 — almost 20% below the same month in 2010.

During the first quarter of 2011 property sales are just 4% higher than the number sold during the first quarter of 2009 (which was the poorest year for sales since 2002), according to Cyprus Property News.

“What seems to be happening now is that the overseas market is picking up, but the domestic market is falling back,” Howath said in an interview.

According to Howath, buyers from Russia are helping to keep the market from falling more than it otherwise might, as “the number of British buyers has been declining for some time”.

Chris Hadjikyriakos, sales manager for a Cyprus real estate company, BuySell Cyprus, said in a recent report that Russian buyers accounted for 60% of the company’s total sales, compared with no more than 10% just three years ago, Howath wrote in his report on his website’s recent survey, noting that the number of buyers from Norway and Britons who have worked in the Middle East has also increased, but to a lesser extent.

“According to Howath, Cyprus’s real estate industry is hoping that recently amended legislation and other buyer-friendly changes will encourage more people into the market.

“For example, buyers will now be able to pay the amount that developers owe on a property directly to the lender, and their contract will take precedence over any mortgage owed by a third person on the property,” Howath noted.“This should enable them to avoid the pitfall that many others have fallen into, assuming that their lawyer investigates the mortgage situation and advises them correctly.”

Howath urged anyone considering buying in Cyprus to rent there for a while first, in order to gain a better sense of the market as well as to be sure that Cyprus life suits them.

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