Cyprus real estate market report
2020 was a challenging year for real estate in Cyprus amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we are pleased to present key highlights and findings from the past twelve months. We feel these insights are extremely useful in helping to plan for future investments and appreciating economic repair and regrowth.
Below, we will highlight transactional activity and property movement across 2020. We will also consider trends in both construction and the housing market, with consideration for COVID-19.
While real estate will rejuvenate post-COVID, it is still important to review key figures from the period. We hope you find our data helpful.
Cyprus’ GDP Contracted by 6.4%
Affecting all industries, Cyprus experienced 6.4% shrinkage in its GDP across 2020. This arrived on the back of five years of significant growth for the country. However, analysts predict that there will be considerable bounce-back from 2021 onwards.
Real Estate and Construction Added 17% to GVA
Despite coronavirus conditions, both construction and real estate only saw minimal contribution shrinkage in 2020. Figures show that industries contributed 17% to Cyprus’ GVA, down from 18% the previous year.
Transaction Values Drop by 32%
Due to COVID-19, transaction value in Cyprus during 2020 sank to €3 billion, a 32% decrease year on year. Transaction activity observed across 2020 showed slowdowns during lockdowns and travel embargoes. Therefore, analysts propose the drop links to foreign interest and overseas investments.
In fact, this is identifiable in a 33% slowdown in foreign buying. Around 2,985 foreign acquisitions took place in 2020, with the vast majority of transaction money emerging from residential zones.
Residential Holds Firm
Despite impacts to construction and real estate, residential transactions remain strongest on the market. Of the aforementioned transaction value in 2020, an equivalent of €2.1 billion emerged from residential purchase. This equates to around 71% of the total value.
Year on year, post initial lockdowns in Cyprus, residential transactions were comparable to that of 2019. However, overall, the country witnessed a drop of around 14% compared to 2019 in total.
However, reports further indicate that there has been a significant decrease in title deed transferral.
Housing Loans Emergence
Across 2020, data shows a significant decrease in interest applied to housing loans. This, analysts propose, is one of the largest drivers for renewing interest in the housing market. Interest, on average, dropped to a rate of around 2.14%.
However, analysts also observe that the criteria for obtaining finance have tightened in Cyprus. This is reportedly in line with additional government financial support as well as loan repayment deferrals.
Slight Decrease in Construction Confidence
Construction confidence indicators in Cyprus took minimal blows across 2020. Following a hugely successful increase in confidence over six years, a 7% shift took place between 2019 and 2020.
Construction materials and resources reduced in cost from year on year by 0.5%. This brings costs in line with 2018. However, prices have risen steadily over the period 2016 to 2019.
Large Changes in Construction Building Priorities
2020 appears to oversee significant shifts towards building warehouses and, perhaps surprisingly, offices across the year. Warehouse construction saw growth of 47% over the year compared to 2019. However, offices saw the most increase, with up to 54% – despite the emergence of safe remote working worldwide.
What is perhaps easier to understand are construction jobs shifting in other areas. Specifically, there was a decrease of 37% in tourism, leisure and hotel buildings year on year. Retail buildings, too, saw a 36% decrease in construction from 2019 to 2020. These changes are perhaps understandable as a result of lockdown curtailment.
However, there was also a slight decrease in residential property construction despite real estate’s continued importance. Around 14% fewer residential homes and buildings emerged in 2020 compared to 2019.
Once again, post lockdown and perhaps post border release, these rates may turn in the opposite direction. Despite this decrease in demand, residential buildings still made up at least 83% of the total surface area built during 2020. Therefore, despite the slight decline in demand, it is clear residential dependency will likely continue.
Building Permits Shrinkage Observed
Again, resulting from the pandemic, a slight shrinkage in permits issued took place in 2020. Leading up to November, levels were lower than 2018 but still higher than the decade-low of 4,933 in 2014. As of November 2020, Cyprus issued 6,375 permits.
Building permit area totals also remain healthy despite pandemic challenges. As of November 2020, permits cover around 2,097 square miles, a low from 2,586 square miles in 2019. However, 2020’s permit area totals remain the fourth-highest for the decade to view.
All Areas in Cyprus Witnessed Value Drops
No one district in Cyprus experienced real estate value growth during 2020. The figures observed are as follows:
- Paphos (47% value decrease)
- Larnaca (16% value decrease)
- Limassol (36% value decrease)
- Nicosia (12% value decrease)
- Famagusta (26% value decrease)
Nicosia Saw Minimal Transaction Increase
Nicosia remains the only district with a positive transaction volume increase in the real estate market in 2020. Other districts, once again, witnessed shrinkage in this area. Paphos experienced this most harshly, with only the Cypriot capital more than breaking even.
- Paphos (32% transaction volume decrease)
- Larnaca (13% transaction volume decrease)
- Limassol (23% transaction volume decrease)
- Nicosia (1% transaction volume increase)
- Famagusta (5% transaction volume decrease)
Nicosia also experienced the lowest drop in demand over the year at around 12%.
High-End Properties Hit Hardest in 2020
Data indicates that high-end real estate sales decreased by up to 45%, year on year. Analysts believe that this may affect the Cyprus Investment Programme or CIP. However, discussions are ongoing as Cyprus continues to rebuild post-lockdown.
Despite such hits, Limassol continues to hold firm as the epicentre of high-end real estate in Cyprus. During 2020, data shows that around 54% of all high-end residential investment – a clear majority – took place in the district.
Paphos, meanwhile, makes up 31% of high-end interest in 2020. This follows clear foreign preference for the district.
Foreign Buyers Prefer Paphos
Despite Paphos’ relative downturn in transaction value and volume in 2020, the district remains the foreign investors’ primary focus. Around 36% of all foreign real estate transactions in 2020 lie in Paphos, with Limassol running a close second.
Analysts observe that key interest in coastal properties may wane slightly amid COVID-19. However, these statistics show that there is no interest lost in these locations long-term.
Despite slight volume growth in 2020, Nicosia experienced only small foreign interest. At around 8% of all foreign real estate purchases in Cyprus in 2020, the district remains the least popular. Therefore, experts believe the increase in transaction volume clearly shows local interest in capital growth.
House Prices Fluctuated Quarter on Quarter
In line with lockdowns releasing in Cyprus, data clearly shows property prices changing wildly during 2020. A slight decade-on-decade increase from 0.3% to 0.4% in Q1 saw a significant price spike of up to 1% take over by Q2. However, this crashed significantly by 0.4% by Q3.
Analysts believe that index pricing, however, largely remained firm. It is thought this may be the case through governmental financial assistance as well as loan repayment deferral. 2021’s data will show whether or not this continues to be the case long term.
Properties Worth Between €100k and €300k Grew in Popularity
Statistics show Cypriot properties valued between €100,000 and €300,000 saw growth in uptake share in 2020. These properties accounted for at least 26% of the real estate market in the past year. This is a 5% increase year on year, indicating strong interest in the middle of the market.
This applies most of all in Famagusta, with a 10% yearly increase in interest in this property range. However, Nicosia follows closely behind at a 5% increase in interest. Tellingly, there are significant transaction decreases in the €100k – €300k bracket in areas such as Paphos (-37%) and Limassol (-22%).
As identified above, both Limassol and Paphos contribute to the majority of foreign investment interest. Therefore, the correlation here is that while interest in midrange properties grew, foreign markets stuck to high-end or cheaper.
Analysts observe that local or national buyers are likely helping to cement at least Nicosia in the above bracket.
Conclusively, the real estate market held firm in Cyprus during 2020, with a 1% decrease in impact on the economy. There are clear indicators that lockdown impacted foreign interest to some extent. However, post-lockdown, interest appears to be growing strong once more.
It is also clear that areas such as Paphos and Limassol remain essential for foreign investment. However, domestic purchases pivot towards Nicosia, the capital. Crucially, further growth will depend on Cyprus’ continued curtailment of the coronavirus.
In our collective opinion, it is perhaps too early to discount the importance of CIP, given unique circumstances last year.
We are confident the economic strength Cyprus built up over the past decade will help support lockdown recovery.