The New York Times

Reference by Journalist in the New York Times to Interview of Yiola Stavraki

Article Published on July 10th, 2009

“Homeowners on Cyprus Turn to British Courts”

“Yiola Stavraki, a Greek Cypriot lawyer, described the ruling as “like opening Pandora’s Box,” as many hundreds of E.U. expats who have bought property in northern Cyprus now could be open to court action.

The case is in the House of Lords, which has a final say, but “the E.C.J. is the highest legal body in the E.U., so it is unlikely that they will ignore this ruling,” Ms. Stavraki said.

Meanwhile, the real estate market is clearly suffering in both parts of the island. A Global Property Guide report for the first three months of 2009 showed house prices in the southern part of the island had fallen 3.04 percent compared with the last three months of 2008.

“The housing market here depends a great deal on holiday, investment and residential sales to U.K. citizens and companies,” said Chris Hadjikyriacou, sales manager for the real estate agency Buy Sell Cyprus. “With the downturn in the U.K., plus sterling’s exchange rate fall against the euro — which is Cyprus’s currency — we’ve seen demand down by maybe 20 to 30 percent this year.”

The Republic of Cyprus is in the euro zone; the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus uses the new Turkish lira.

In northern Cyprus, meanwhile, “a few years ago, developers were selling seven or eight houses a week off-plan here,” said Peter Lama Lawson, who runs the Homebuyers Estate Agency in Famagusta. “Now, one developer told me he’d only sold six properties all year.”

Yet while properties are often similar north and south — typically consisting of new apartment buildings and villas, with older, stone built Cypriot houses only occasionally on the market — prices remain far apart.

“In the south, around Paphos, which is popular with expats, you can find two-bedroom apartments for €120,000 to €140,000, while villas can go for up to half a million euros,” Mr. Hadjikyriacou said.

In the north, where real estate prices are usually quoted in British pounds, a three-bedroom bungalow with a swimming pool might sell for £80,000 to £85,000, or $130,700 to $138,870.