Insights | 15 December 2023 | Cybarco Development Ltd

Michalis Hadjipanayiotou , CEO, Cybarco

Customers are more educated on the real estate market than ever before. They have choice and will scrutinise the options available with far more detail. Comprehensive developments continue to attract interest, while trends in sustainable and eco-friendly buildings are on the rise.

How would you assess the current state of the Cyprus real estate sector? Was 2023 a good year for the industry, and what were the key milestones for Cybarco?

The sector has had a very good year with a 19% increase in sales compared to 2022, half of which can be attributed to foreign buyers. This continued interest, particularly from Israel and the EU, reinforces the strength of the market and Cyprus’ competitiveness, but also the value of product on offer. There is limited availability or completed projects for the ‘ready-to-move-in’ buyers who are currently high in demand – a knock-on effect of our success in attracting ICT companies. Consequently, we have had another record year at Cybarco. We’re always adjusting our strategy to meet market needs so this was a year that saw us launch and sell boutique developments both in Limassol and Nicosia, not only off-plan, but even prior to construction. There is no shortage of investors looking for an opportunity with good rental yields, so our smaller developments are always quick to sell to our existing network of customers – including Cypriots – who trust in our quality and service. Trilogy’s plaza is nearing completion, and the two upfront towers are preparing to welcome their first residents too. Given that we sold out all offices and we only have 20 apartments available to sell in the towers – and a further 25 in the third building ‘North Residences – I would say 2023 was the year that positioned the upcoming seafront destination as one of our biggest success stories after Limassol Marina. Our breathtaking beachfront villas at Akamas Bay Villas, in Latchi and close to Anassa Hotel, have also been selling well to buyers who decided to reprioritise and reconnect with nature and family after the pandemic. Overall, I would say 2023 took a lot of adjusting for the real estate sector but its challenges provided ample opportunities for us as a company.

What current trends are influencing the real estate market in Cyprus, and how do you see these trends evolving in the next few years?

Even in real estate terms ‘value for money’ is a trend that I anticipate seeing at the top of the agenda. Potential customers are more educated on the real estate market than ever before. They have choice, and they will scrutinise the options available to them with far more detail than ever before. The demand from ICT companies for office space and readily available units for their employees is driving supply. But this comes with infrastructure needs and a closer look at desirable trends like sustainable and eco-friendly buildings. Comprehensive developments continue to attract interest. We have seen this time and time again with our mixed-use projects. People want convenience and access to common facilities such as swimming pools, spas, gyms, play areas, restaurants, and shops.

With regards to property investment, what regions or types of properties in Cyprus do you consider particularly promising for prospective investors, and why?

We feel that Limassol will continue to lead in this area. It has the versatility and international edge, while also providing a live-work-play environment on the seafront. It has a bit of everything, including its history and culture, but also benefits from its own superyacht marina, casino resort, upcoming golf course, five-star hotels and private schools. We also expect that Nicosia will gain more traction as the city becomes increasingly enticing to companies from abroad. In general, smaller units that offer higher yields will continue to rise in demand and, of course, the high-end properties that offer more than a home – a lifestyle with services and facilities on their doorstep – will always be a more tempting proposition.

How significant are foreign buyers to the Cyprus market? What countries/markets are the most important at the moment in terms of attracting foreign buyers?

Very significant. Despite all the geopolitical challenges, Cyprus continues to provide a safe haven for people looking for security, stability, and quality of life. Buyers from Israel and the EU are in the majority at the moment, whether it’s for them as end-users, for their employees, or for rental income. Buying property is rarely just a practical decision. When you look at what is going on around us, it’s clear that weighing up the package we offer extends beyond the property itself.

What distinguishes the Cyprus real estate market from other Mediterranean countries, and what advantages does it offer to potential buyers or investors? Are there any specific incentives that have been a game-changer in attracting foreign buyers?

We have access to a good quality of newly built developments with facilities that differentiate us. We have developments in fantastic locations with great accessibility, all within international communities that boast a level of services far exceeding what potential buyers may find in other Mediterranean countries. Beyond that, limited supply and the size of the market help us retain our competitiveness while our economy performs above EU average. Add a beneficial tax regime to the advantages of being a growing market at the crossroads of three continents and in a stable economy, and you have all the ingredients you need to continue attracting foreign buyers.

What are the key challenges that real estate developers or agencies face in Cyprus today, and how are they navigating these challenges?

Speeding up the process with the acquisition of planning permits, to meet market needs, is top on the list. Then comes digitisation – something we came face to face with during the pandemic. It’s imperative as part of our strategy to shift our professionalism to the next level. The high cost of land and construction are also pushing prices up which provides a challenge across the board for our sector. Better planning, more collaboration and lower costs will help us offer value to buyers. I would also say better coordination between the private and public sectors is key.

What measures or initiatives are crucial for sustaining the growth of the real estate industry in Cyprus while maintaining sustainable development?

We feel better masterplan regulations for the country are needed, so that we have more structured development. There are also many legislations that need to be adjusted to today’s world, like the abolition of restrictions on the sizes of apartments and the implementation of a new legislation for common expenses.

Considering the growing interest in sustainable and eco-friendly properties, how are real estate professionals in Cyprus incorporating sustainability practices into their projects?

Change is underway and we are all doing what we need to do to adhere to EU regulations. Customers are asking for more eco-friendly buildings, so we are using more sustainable materials and taking the new trends on board from design to implementation.

What are your expectations for the sector and the Cyprus economy for 2024?

I am very positive about the Cyprus economy and the real estate market in general. The Cyprus GDP growth is above the EU average, and we expect a continued demand for properties from foreigners seeking a second home or looking to make Cyprus their permanent residence. I am confident the strong interest from foreigners will continue to be as prevalent as it is now, and Cyprus will continue attracting ICT companies. Demand will remain high, and supply cannot meet it so we expect that 2024 will be another strong year for real estate.

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