Property sales and the Cyprus cuisine
Continuing in the vacation spirit of the days, I would like to remind everyone of the phrase that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”.
Foreign buyers, particularly Russians, especially appreciate the friendship and hospitality. From my own experience and if you would like to host a prospective buyer at your home, I propose what should in general terms be included in the Cypriot hospitality dinner. Naturally, I am referring to high value sales and not the middle / low range prices where perhaps the cost and the effort could be disproportionate to the purchase amount or even commission, if you’re interested.
• For a starter with wine, always offer a good quality siousioukko and perhaps corn on the cob grilled with sea salt in order to “melt” the ice during the first hour of the meeting. Hiromeri ham (our own version of prosciutto) is a “killer”.
• If you are offering nuts or dried fruit, start with peanuts with the initial drink (I will not forget a Russian billionaire who was so delighted with the Cypriot peanuts that for the past three years I have been sending him peanuts by post!)
• With the second drink ready, offer halloumi grilled with tomato in pitta bread.
• For the main course you should prepare the ‘souvla’ with pork meat and some chicken if your guests do not eat red meat. This ritual should take place in front of your guests and not in the back yard. You should have an extra oven pasta dish or even better, a moussaka not with potatoes but with vegetables and greens to balance the meat.
• The salad must be fresh of the day and not those from the refrigerator (they have them in Russia as well) in order to welcome your guests with the fresh smell.
• For drinks, what better than a good Cyprus wine, a chilled white and a slightly cooled red (keep for just 10 minutes in the fridge before serving).
• And for dessert, top it off with local sweets such as ‘shamali’, ‘loukoumaded’ (donuts0, or a creamy mahallepi.
• For other drinks apart from wine, keep a bottle of refrigerated vodka and end he meal with Greek mastic (many people do not like zivania). And don’t forget - do not force your guests to drink more than they want.
• The ambience should include some romantic Greek songs with the appropriate translation depending on the circumstances. Ask but do not insist for your guests to sing along.
• Finally, before your guests leave, you may consider appropriate gifts, such as a silver rosary (komboloi) for the husband, and for the wife and a silver dish or traditional Lefkaritiko lace.
These are my suggestions for sales to Russians who are often intrigued by such lavish treatment.
On a lighter note, let me tell you of a Russian buyer at the Poseidon project in Larnaca, who bought a house for EUR 2.8 mln on the beach. Considering the high purchase cost, we invited him to a small party at the under-construction home, with the traditional souvla. Our buyer got so excited that he insisted (and we have included in the purchase document) that for the next three years would we will host a similar party for him (I have kept this contract as a unique memento of the 35-year history of our office).
And because I believe in an aggressive approach, following our deal, we also sent the cook (the supervising contractor) together with charcoal and the ‘foukou’ grill to Russia with a box of wine. It may have cost us around EUR 2,00 for a party of 22 people in Moscow, but it was worth it. The next time, we will probably send two Vrakades in traditional costume with Cypriot dances.
Don’t forget that in such cases, the buyers already have everything they want (or at least they can get it), so you need to focus on local tradition and something different, always giving ample consideration to the hostess, who very often is the final decision maker in a deal.
And if your potential buyer is stroppy-faced and gloomy, make sure you invite a friend who will liven up the party, with dance and song, or even a zeibekiko for the traditional group dance inspired from ‘Zorba the Greek’.
In a future article I will also elaborate on how we approached a Jordanian buyer, an experience not be forgotten.