Instead of the government taking radical steps to solve the root of a problem it is happy to resort only to half measures to fix some of the old problems.
We are referring to the bill tabled by the government to protect trapped real estate buyers.
Let it be clear that we support the content of such a bill, to protect those who have or are willing to fulfill their obligations towards developers but cannot obtain a title. The problem arises because banks or the tax department are blocking the transfer of titles to the buyers when the developer has overdue liabilities.
Blame the past
It is true that bad practices of the past are plaguing the real estate sector and the state is trying to solve them now by adopting half-measures.
Why do we say this?
The reason is that if the bill wins the vote of the parliament this coming Thursday it will not solve the source of the problem. It will also not help all ‘trapped’ real estate buyers. There are currently thousands of properties without a title deed. The bill will do nothing to help the thousands of owners who bought and paid for their property without knowing when the title will be issued.
As the procedures and legislation stand now, people buying properties do not know if they will ever obtain a title deed.
A simple fact is causing 99% of the problems and is making the relations between developers, buyers, banks and municipal authorities problematic.
The fact is that title deeds are not issued on time.
A lot of things take place between the day a sales contract is signed and the date titles are issued.
The longer the time lapses the bigger the problems.
Let us not forget the numerous cases of foreigners, especially British who wanted to sell their properties after 2008 but could not do so as they had no title deeds.
In order to solve this problem the day the developer delivers the keys to the hands of the buyer must be the same day the title is issued and transferred in the name of the buyer.
This is the best policy and is followed internationally, in Greece, the UK, etc.
To be able to achieve this it is vital that checks are carried out by the authorities during the construction of a building. We might also need to involve the engineers responsible for the construction who will verify compliance to the rules and regulations.
The Ministry of the Interior must be the one to design the new procedures. We can offer our experience and expertise if asked to do so.
Perhaps the state’s bureaucrats need to decide that things must finally change; different government departments and processes must merge, private sector professionals should be engaged and the use of the internet and technology increased.
Do not get us wrong; we applaud the spirit of the tabled bills, to solve problems created over the years. However, most importantly we must adopt simple new practices and avoid the existing ones short-circuiting the whole system.
More simply put, title deeds must be delivered to the buyer on the same day of the delivery of the property, to avoid problems in the future.
General Manager, FOX Smart Estate Agency
Chairman Cyprus Property Owners Association
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