By George Psyllides
House prices dropped 1.6 per cent overall in the first quarter of the year, continuing their downward course as the economic climate worsens.
Year-on-year, prices dropped by 5.4 per cent, according to data compiled by the Central Bank (CBC)
The CBC index showed house and apartment prices fell by 1.6 per cent in the first three months of the year, compared with 0.9 per cent in the last quarter of 2012.
The largest quarterly drop in house prices was recorded in the Larnaca district at 3.5 per cent, while Paphos and Famagusta showed signs of stabilisation with drops of 0.3 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively.
Apartment prices in Larnaca fell 5.6 per cent in the Q1, the biggest drop since Q1 2011. The quarterly drop in house prices in Larnaca was 1.9 per cent.
Apartment prices in Limassol remained relatively stable, while house prices dropped 1.3 per cent.
Famagusta recorded a 1.2 per cent drop in apartment prices and a 1.0 per cent rise in house prices.
Similarly in Paphos, house prices rose 1.1 per cent in Q1 compared with a 1.0 per cent drop in apartment prices.
House prices in the Nicosia district fell 2.5 per cent combined with a 1.5 per cent drop in apartments.
On a yearly basis, prices fell by 5.4 per cent – 5.0 per cent for houses and 5.8 per cent for apartments.
The lowest annual decrease was recorded in Limassol – 2.7 per cent for homes and 4.3 per cent for apartments.
The biggest drops, compared with Q1 2012, were recorded in the price of apartments and houses in Larnaca – 12.2 per cent and 8.0 per cent respectively.
In Paphos and Famagusta, apartment prices dropped by 5.6 per cent and 6.3 per cent respectively.
House prices in Paphos recorded an annual drop of 3.7 per cent and 2.5 per cent in Famagusta.
In general, price indexes in all districts decreased, the CBC said, although Paphos and Famagusta, showed signs of a slowdown in the rate of reduction.
The annual rate of reduction in Paphos and Famagusta decelerated somewhat in the last three quarters, the CBC said.
However, the annual rate of reduction in the price of houses accelerated in Nicosia, a district which until recently had showed relatively small reductions.
Despite the drop in prices, real estate sales were down in Q1 compared with Q1 2012.
The number of sales documents submitted to the land registry recorded a 49.2 per cent drop on an annual basis.
The figure concerned only Cypriot buyers.
Paphos appeared to buck the trend, both as regards Cypriot and foreign buyers.
The district recorded an increase in sales contracts involving Cypriot buyers – 9.3 per cent – and remained stable when it came to foreigners.