Protecting your home - what’s the cost?
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.