Cheap apartments in a day
Is it possible for prices of new apartments to fall in a day and even to a level that is affordable for young people and low-earners? Can such an objective be achieved without subsidies, without taxes and grants, and without anyone suffering any damage?
But if the supremos of housing in Cyprus, the invisible Town Planning Council and the Town Planning Dept. deal with the problem of inaccessible housing costs, this problem can be solved without delay.
In Cyprus, in addition to regulations for the building coefficient, the covered spaces, height, etc., there are the notorious rules regarding minimum area. Some technocrats, mainly the highly-paid ones, decided that the average Cypriot should not (whether financially able or not) live in apartments that are smaller than a minimum size, depending on the number of bedrooms. The minimum size is determined by the technocrats themselves. For a twobedroom apartment, this should be no less than 100 sq.m. (80 sq.m. apartment + terraces + communal area) and for a 3-bed, no less than 125 sq.m.
Hence, the prevailing prices of new apartments is on average EUR 2,050 / sq.m.So, at EUR 205,000, plus VAT of 5%, the apartment has a market cost of EUR 215,000 (plus the relevant transfer fees) and the 3-bed apartment is EUR 256,000 plus VAT, which plus costs and transfer fees equals EUR 276,000.
Discussing the issue with the Town Planning officials, their view is that the Cypriots should not “live in holes” and Cyprus “will not look like the London or Paris apartments where a 2 bedroom is only 60 sq. m.” Well done, they certainly care about the quality of life of the Cypriot, but the question is if a Cypriot can afford to buy housing at current levels (and this despite the overall reduction of prices)?
As circumstances change, and because the female partner is also working in this day and age, the kitchen, as a room, has been abolished and replaced with an open plan kitchen with modern ventilators, a microwave, etc. The age of double salons has gone and all that because the Cypriot who buys an apartment at a minimum size and price can no longer afford additional rooms.
Meanwhile, those in government, being misfed inaccurate information, is increasing subsidies and distributing plots in rural areas at the expense of the state. I am not in favour of abolishing such state aid, but there are others who are not entitled to such subsidies or do not want to live outside of the cities where the government is offering cheap land. The problems created by the decentralisation of the population, such as lack of public transport, fuel consumption, waste of time in the car, lack of schools, hospitals, particularly for children, etc. are obstacles to this solution. All this, therefore, are happening in a country which has land for development earth to accomodate 4,200,000 people, and yet there is a shortage of land for the current 800,000 population.
So, we must therefore abolish the silly measure and the market to freely indicate how and what size of a home a Cypriot wants to live in. By abolishing the minimum areas, we can have two-bedroom apartments of 70-80 sq.m. This alone will have the following impact:
80 sq.m. x EUR 2,050 + VAT + Transfer fees = EUR 172,000 as opposed to our previous example of EUR 220,000 (a difference of EUR 48,000) and that of the three bedrooms with at least 100 sq.m, the difference will be EUR 58,000.
I submit to you that until recently (now repealed) only Communist China provided the system of minimum areas due to overcrowding (a regulation that too has been abolished), while other countries that have such a system (23 states in America) do not have the limitations of building coefficient, height, etc.
If we look at holiday apartments, eg. Ayios Elias in Protaras, with the old area of ??2 bedrooms being 60 sq.m., compared to those being built now having increased the minimum to 90 sq.m., the difference in cost to the buyer is in excess of EUR 70,000.
So, only the wealthy and the foreigners can now enjoy this luxury of a holiday home.
Why is the State incapable of grasping the ever-worsening situation? Why have the Town Planning Council, the technical chamber ETEK and other organised bodies (eg. architects’ association), as well as the relevant ministers, so slow to understand this?
I expect from this government, as declared by President Anastasiades, to work towards a more efficient and caring approach, that will cost the state nothing and will, on the contrary, earn the support of the general public.
Finally, I would like to add that if this incomprehensible measure remains, the present government should propose to abolish the import of small vehicles, including those without the luxury of air-bags and air conditioning, because within the logic of the Town Planning Council, Cypriots do not deserve to be transported in such quality vehicles.
Perhaps, the whole farce is reminiscent of Marie Antoinette’s famous last words, “let them eat cake”?