Paphos, the booming resort town in the western part of Cyprus, has more than just cultural tourism to brag about after it managed to defend its title for being at the top of real estate sales to foreign buyers.
The city, which was European Capital of Culture last year (Pafos 2017), boasts 40.3% of sales to foreigners, with Limassol on the southern coast known for attracting Russian investment coming second with 29.7%.
Foreign buyers prefer the coast
Foreign buyers are overwhelmingly Chinese and Russian in Paphos, as investors show a preference for seaside villas and holiday homes, including mansions in areas such as Coral Bay, Latchi, and Chloraka. But there are also luxury apartments in Kato Paphos, making the apartment complex concept a lot more attractive with safe and comfortable living styles with many services and amenities for those who can afford it.
Larnaca has sold land to 14.3% of foreigners, while Famagusta in the east managed to stay in double digits with 11.4%.
Nicosia, the capital city, managed to attract only 4.3% in absolute of foreign buyers, even though many believe a number of large projects, including luxury living and office space, could soon attract more investors.
Over half of buyers not Cypriots
Official data from February point to a total of 666 sales contracts of residential and commercial plots of land around the island, 46% of which were registered by locals, meaning that 54% of buyers were non-Cypriots.
Experts warn that the passport scheme could backfire and potentially start another housing bubble
The city has been in the spotlight for facing many challenges while going through a speedy transformation, with revitalisation projects championed by Paphos mayor Fedonas Fedonos, who is also credited for helping clean up the town.
Fedonos is also one of the top whistleblowers in Cyprus, after he helped authorities unravel a number of scandals many years in the making.
Success story raises questions
There has been criticism of Cyprus, mainly coming from the European Union, which believes a cash-for-passport scheme on the island has gone on for too long and no longer serves its purpose. Following the economic crisis in 2013, the government drew billions in investment from superrich investors, mainly Russian, in exchange for citizenship.
But experts warn that the passport scheme could backfire and potentially start another housing bubble, as few locals can afford prices that keep climbing and a drop in foreign demand could be catastrophic.