Sales of property in Cyprus to the overseas market fell 15% in November in a continuing trend that started in June following the introduction of stricter criteria for foreigners seeking Cypriot citizenship.
THE FALL in sales of property to the overseas (non-Cypriot) reached 15% in November compared to November 2018.
Sales had been growing for several months until they peaked in May, immediately before Cyprus introduced stricter criteria for foreigners seeking to buy citizenship and passports under the governments ‘Citizenship by Investment’ scheme.
It is clear that a number of British as well as non-EU citizens have applied for citizenship. In an article ‘Exclusive: The Brits who won’t Brexit‘ published yesterday, Reuters named a number of UK Conservative donors who “quietly took steps to stay inside the European Union”. They include billionaire Alan Howard, one of Britain’s best-known hedge fund managers, and Jeremy Isaacs CBE, the former head of Lehman Brothers for Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Both ‘acquired’ Cypriot citizenship in 2018 according to government documents seen by Reuters.
We expect that many other Britons have applied for Cypriot citizenship to stay inside the European Union, but the government has consistently refused to release the names or nationalities of applicants although some have been leaked in the local press.
On November 7 in-cyprus reported that the Cyprus naturalisation scheme had reached its limit, with the number of applications apparently exceeding the annual limit of 700 for the remainder of 2019 and 2020; officials were considering suspending the scheme until 2021. But it was decided not to suspend the scheme at this stage. However, all new applications will be considered in 2021 unless a high number of pending applications are rejected.
In an unexpected development earlier this month, one of the three-members of the committee set up to review the individuals who obtained some 4,000 passports under the ‘Citizenship by Investment’ scheme resigned. Rea Georgiou, the Accountant General of the Republic, did not wish to comment on the reasons that led to her decision, but merely stated that ‘they are purely personal’.
As we reported on 4th December, Cyprus saw a slight fall of 2% in the number of sales contracts deposited at Land Registry offices in November compared to November 2018.
Of the 907 contracts deposited, 543 (60%) were deposited by local (Cypriot) purchasers and the remaining 364 (40%) by foreign buyers of whom 125 were EU nationals and 239 non-EU nationals.
Domestic property sales
Sales to Cypriot purchasers rose 9% in November compared to November 2018. While sales in Larnaca and Famagusta fell by 16% and 7% respectively – and remained steady in Paphos, sales in Nicosia rose by 33% and in Limassol by 7%.
Between January and November 2019, sales to the domestic market have risen by 21% to reach 5,355 compared to 4,425 over the same period last year.
Domestic Property Sale Contracts – 2018/2019 Comparison
(Note that some of these sales may have resulted from properties acquired by banks as part of loan restructuring agreements, debt for asset swaps, etc.)
Overseas property sales
As we headlined, sales to the overseas market dropped 15% in November compared to November 2018.
Although sales in Famagusta, Nicosia and Paphos rose 6%, 5% and 2% respectively, these rises were more than wiped out by falls of 42% in Limassol and 13% in Larnaca.
Between January and November, sales to the overseas market have risen by 3% to reach 4,121 compared to 4,017 over the same period last year.
Total Overseas Property Sale Contracts – 2018/2019 Comparison
Overseas sales (EU nationals)
Sales to EU Nationals fell 13% in November compared to November last year.
Although sales in Nicosia and Larnaca rose 114% and 27% respectively, there were falls of 32% in Limassol, 31% in Famagusta and 18% in Paphos.
Between January and November, sales to EU nationals have risen by 6% to reach 1,372 compared to 1,293 over the same period last year.
Foreign (EU) Property Sale Contracts – 2018/2019 Comparison
Overseas sales (non-EU nationals)
Property sales to non-EU nationals fell by 16% in November compared to November 2018.
Although there were rises of 30% in Famagusta and 17% in Paphos, there were falls of 54% in Nicosia, 45% in Limassol and 22% in Larnaca.
During the first 11 months of 2019, sales to non-EU nationals have risen by 1% to reach 2,749 compared to 2,724 over the same period last year.
Foreign (Non-EU) Property Sale Contracts – 2018/2019 Comparison
Analysis of property sales 2000-2019
Cyprus Property Sale Contracts 2000 – 2019
1 The Department of Lands & Surveys has advised that overseas sales in 2018 and subsequent year should not be compared to sales in previous years due to changes in the methodology used to classify ‘Aliens’ (foreigners).
Cyprus Property News