Pro­tect­ing your home - what’s the cost?

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Even though Cyprus is con­sid­ered a safe coun­try and per­haps the safest place in the EU, how­ever, within the real es­tate mar­ket there is an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant is­sue of safety, which in­creases the value of a “safe” prop­erty. Ac­cord­ing to In­ter­pol data, Cyprus has only 5% of the UK crime rate, 6% of Ger­many and 14% of Spain. De­spite this, the crime rate in Cyprus is on an in­creas­ing rate (as in other coun­tries) and this is a con­cern to all stake­hold­ers. Both the drugs prob­lem, for­eign work­ers, and ris­ing un­em­ploy­ment, the cre­ation of some ghet­tos, etc., have their im­pact on crime, which in this case raises con­cerns about the se­cu­rity of a home.

This is­sue is par­tic­u­larly of rel­e­vance in the case of hol­i­day homes that of­ten re­main empty for some time and in­deed for some crim­i­nals this rep­re­sents a chal­lenge and in­vi­ta­tion that is too hard to re­sist. The crime rate in an area dras­ti­cally af­fects prop­erty prices and to this end I would like to men­tion the Kato Paphos area with a dis­pro­por­tion­ately large gather­ing Pon­tian Greeks, as is the case in the cen­tre of Yer­ma­soyia with the clubs and partly in Ayia Napa. The prop­erty prices ??in these ar­eas are about 50% lower than sim­i­lar units in nearby, but safer ar­eas.

Thus in the ar­eas where we have a high pro­por­tion of ??Pon­tians in Paphos prices are (for a two-bed­room apart­ment) no more than EUR 850 / sq.m., com­pared to prop­er­ties 500 me­ters away for which the rate is EUR 1,200 / sq.m. Sim­i­larly, ar­eas which are low on crime but this is “im­ported” due to events, such as the area of the Tsirion sta­dium in Li­mas­sol, with a high rate of hooli­gan­ism dur­ing and af­ter foot­ball matches, have damp­ened mar­ket in­ter­est in the im­me­di­ate area, with sim­i­lar re­sults on lo­cal prop­erty val­ues. Another more re­cent phe­nom­e­non is the crime rate in cer­tain refugee es­tates, that seem to be “ruled” by young crim­i­nals and gangs, where peo­ple com­plain that they live in a state of siege, as was once the Bronx area of New York. Surely we are all wit­nesses of the events in Athens and in the Exarchia district, from where there is an ex­o­dus by some res­i­dents who may do so be­cause of their eco­nomic sta­bil­ity and heir abil­ity to move to safer ar­eas.

At is­sue is prob­lem of the elderly who, due to their eco­nomic and phys­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions feel more in­se­cure and thus are more prone to such sit­u­a­tions. This is par­tic­u­larly com­mon among elderly for­eign­ers, who in such cases do not know where to turn for help and sup­port.

Fo­cus­ing on the Fa­m­a­gusta area with hol­i­day homes empty for months, the rates of theft is much higher. Stolen items are mostly of low cost and would add no value to oth­ers, such as the door­mat, lamps gar­dens, air con­di­tioner com­pres­sors, and even re­cently a case of in­ex­pen­sive ce­ramic jugs that were stolen, worth no more than five eu­ros. Cer­tainly, there are more “valu­able” items of thieves such as kitchen and elec­tri­cal goods, tele­vi­sions, etc. For this rea­son, and based on my ex­pe­ri­ence, I rec­om­mend the fol­low­ing ba­sic prop­erty pro­tec­tion mea­sures:

• Alarm sys­tem - The in­stal­la­tion cost is around EUR 1,000 / dwelling (apart­ments around EUR 600) in di­rect con­nec­tion with the se­cu­rity com­pany. This can be in­stalled and mon­i­tored from your phone.

• Dou­ble glaz­ing - Apart from the is­sue of pro­tect­ing from heat and cold, the use of dou­ble glaz­ing com­pli­cates mat­ters even more for thieves, while an equally strong el­e­ment are the safety alu­minium frames. Cost for a house around EUR 2,000.

• Ex­ter­nal bal­cony doors - At least on the ground floor, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult as ad­di­tional point of en­try. Cost around EUR 3,500.

• Se­cure main front door - There are im­ported doors with var­i­ous ex­ter­nal trims with metal frame and multi-lock systems. Cost around EUR 500.

• Elec­tric gate - Cost around EUR 2,200 (in the case of res­i­dence with a garden or blocks with a pri­vate road).

• Light sen­sors - Lights that switch on at night as some­one passes. It may in­crease the elec­tric­ity use and can be an­noy­ing with pass­ing cats, etc., but it is worth the ef­fort. Cost around EUR 500.

In ad­di­tion to the above, there are other mea­sures that you want to con­sider, and in­de­pen­dent of that, you still need to in­sure for both theft and ma­li­cious dam­age. Con­sider care­fully the safety con­di­tions men­tioned in the cover, par­tic­u­larly when the house is un­oc­cu­pied. There is a special con­di­tion where the dwelling is con­sid­ered unin­sured if it empty for a con­tin­u­ous pe­riod of more than three months.

With­out hav­ing to panic, the new trends nowa­days is also the use of bul­let-proof glass. Not so much be­cause some­one will shoot at you, but be­cause it is very dif­fi­cult to break and gain un­law­ful en­try. Cam­eras are also in­creas­ing in de­mand, and there are false units used to dis­cour­age crim­i­nals.

Aprt from the bul­let-proof glass, the ad­di­tional cost of se­cur­ing a home is around EUR 5,000-10,000 for a nor­mal house. Un­for­tu­nately, while we that that we were safe in Cyprus, the new trends of glob­al­i­sa­tion has also ar­rived on our doorstep. In Italy, where po­lice of­ten ad­mit to their weak­ness, gov­ern­ment minister of­ten en­cour­age the cre­ation of ‘neigh­bour­hood watch’ groups to get some sense of se­cu­rity, a trend that has re­cently been adopted in Cyprus as well.

Surely, this can also bee seen as a very dan­ger­ous de­vel­op­ment de­pend­ing on how every­one con­sid­ers keep­ing their neigh­bour­hood safe. I was wor­ried to hear from one such ‘neigh­bour­hood watch’ su­per­vi­sor that has a dou­ble­bar­relled in his car “just in case”. Who would have thought 20 years ago that the se­cu­rity in­dus­try would flour­ish in such a way. This re­minds me of the time-con­sum­ing fine col­lec­tions process for which there is a clear gov­ern­ment weak­ness and now we have special col­lec­tion of­fices.

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