Sunday, October 05, 2008

Bait and switch

We spent Eid Al Fitr in Cyprus. Having decided that it’d be a marvellous place to have our dream home, Beloved Wife made several appointments with various estate agents and land owners, I used a local contact to find a Cyprus contact, and off we flew. Business Class there and back (ouch my wallet) because those were the only available seats. Once I’d booked and paid for the tickets, Beloved Wife’s employer in his mercy then decreed that her office would be shut all week. I had to reschedule the outbound flight. Gulf Air wanted an additional fee to change the booking, “but you can pay this at the airport.” What no-one told us was that paying at the airport required an additional fee of Dh100 per person to be paid to DNATA as a service charge for doing precisely nothing.

Another thing that no-one had told us was that 1st October is Cyprus National Day, and everything would be shut. So our appointments to see all the land we’d arranged to view became rushed. Some holiday! We left the allegedly two- or three-star hotel immediately after our mediocre breakfasts and didn’t get back until well after dark.

Five days in Cyprus were extremely instructive:-

  • “Hotel has Wi-Fi internet access.”
    “There is Ye Olde Dial-Uppe computer in the foyer.”

  • “Hotel has all air-conditioned rooms.”
    “If you want us to turn it on there’s an additional charge.”

  • “Hotel has a swimming pool.”
    “Blue-tiled rectangular hole with some temporary fencing around it.”

  • “The plot is gently sloping.”
    “I’m trying to sell you a near-vertical cliff face.”

  • “Power and water are nearby.”
    “There’s an electricity pole about half a mile from the bottom of the aforementioned cliff face.”

  • “It’s this piece of flat ground as per the plan.”
    “The plan is wrong. It’s actually this cliff face overlooking the motorway.”

  • “The plot is 820 sq.m”
    “By the time the access road is built this 650 sq.m plot will reduce to 535 sq.m”

  • Cutting a long story short, we eventually found a perfect plot in a lovely location near Pafos. The land is fertile, a vineyard, reasonably flat, there’s decent road access and nearby power and water. It’s also big enough for our fantasy home with land enough for grapevines, fruit trees and livestock. It's close to a village but not on a housing estate. Beloved Wife and I discussed the finer details with the owner, developer and agent, after which I told them that we had a deal and would approach a solicitor to deal with purchase and transfer of land title.

    And then on Saturday morning as we were on our way to the airport the agent rang to say that there had been a ghastly mistake. Despite all financial discussions being in Euro, the published adverts being in Euro and the agent showing us a plot guided by our budget in Euro, we were told that the figures quoted had all been in Cypriot Pounds. A 71% increase. The C£ currency has been obsolete since January 2008. It took me about an hour to adjust to Euro; apparently it takes certain oleaginous and serpentine individuals more than nine months to make the adjustment.

    Apparently the adverts are all wrong and the land owner has tried to get the figures changed. But he never said so to our faces.

    Relating this sorry tale of the retail snake oil trade to the proprietor of a Larnaca taverna, his reaction was that the C£ is dead and, I quote, to “Tell him to piss off.”

    Quite. We’re still looking for appropriate land. Dependent on what the agent comes up with, I reserve the option to revise this blog with ‘name and shame’ hyperlinks. Their uppance will come.



    nzm said...

    J and I got really excited for you both and then read to the end of your post. :-(

    Bugger, bugger, bugger.

    Keefieboy said...

    The owner's just trying it on...

    Ian the Dog said...

    The property market in Cyprus (oh, and most other places too) was in the crapper before the Great Credit Crunch really hit. Hold onto your cash, wait till sellers get a lot more desperate and then pick up a bargain.

    Mme Cyn said...

    Ian is right -- and we may have dodged a bullet in many ways. but I did love that vineyard. *Sigh*

    Richard B said...

    Vineyard = Goat Pen :-)

    Sorry to hear the end but fingers crossed.

    Richard B.

    El Casareño Inglés said...

    Not very different from spain then. Everyone there's falling over themselves to offload their property. The Spanish still seem to price their property (at least mentally)in pesetas, hence asking prices of, for example, 78,013 euro (13 million ptas).

    Hope you find that dream goatshed.

    Jayne said...

    The 'switching' of currencies is such a piss poor excuse & in my humble opinion, the owner & agent were out to pull a fast one. Bit of a bugger, as I'm sure it was a lovely spot, but hang in there, you're bound to find another one :-)


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