Foreign Investment Tumbles in Cyprus amid Booming Real Estate Markets

By : Nick Marr

Most Cyprus districts saw exponential growth in the sale of residential as well as commercial properties this year. The demand for properties in Cyprus has, however, been driven by domestic buyers. Overseas investment has tumbled drastically, due to a number of factors.

Land Registry offices in Cyprus received 452 contracts for the sale of commercial and residential properties and plots of land in March, up 31% compared to the same month last year.

Of the 452 properties, 91% were purchased by Cyprus residents (a jump of 71% compared to the same month last year), while foreigners bought the remaining 9% (60% down).

Nicosia is the only district in Cyprus where foreign investment in properties went up in March, with a 71% increase. The number of properties being purchased by overseas buyers dropped in all other districts.

Only one property was sold to a foreigner in March this year in Famagusta, one of the popular districts among overseas buyers, compared to14 properties in March last year.

The drop appears to be highly related to negative publicity, rather than economic factors, though the weak rouble is also a factor.

Up until 2013, Chinese buyers were everywhere in Cyprus, but their number dwindled recently because allegedly they were duped by brokers and sold properties at exorbitant rates.  Dubious real-estate brokers also duped Lebanese nationals into purchasing property in Cyprus on the promise that they would get them residency permits, even when they didn’t fulfil the various criteria.

Like some EU countries including Portugal and Spain, Cyprus also offers residency permits to foreign property investors. An overseas buyer has to spend at least €300,000 (US$388,000) to get the residency permit.