Anastasia Yianni: Over 400 transactions of luxury properties in 2022

Anastasia Yianni, CEO of Cyprus Sotheby’s International Realty, talks to CBN about the island’s high-end real estate market and how its potential has led the prestigious network to recently open its second office in Limassol.

She says the decision to open in Cyprus came as a result of increased demand from high net worth individuals, with over 400 transactions above €1m taking place in the country last year alone. As for Yianni personally, she says she loves Cyprus: “I love the weather, safety, lifestyle, food, hospitality and warmth – I never felt unwelcome or a foreigner.”

When was Cyprus Sotheby’s International Realty first established in Cyprus? How did Sotheby’s decision to open an office here come about?

Cyprus Sotheby’s International Realty is part of the largest international network of luxury real estate, Sotheby’s International Realty. Our network is present in 81 countries of the world, with more than 1,000 offices.

In Cyprus, our company was launched in 2019 when we opened our first office in Paphos. The decision to open in Cyprus came as a result of increased demand for Cyprus properties from high net worth individuals.

Cyprus Sotheby’s manages high-end real estate. What services does it offer?

Cyprus Sotheby’s International Realty offers a complete range of services connected with property. In broad terms, we can identify main areas: finding lifestyle property for personal use, investment properties, managing property investment portfolios, consultancy services for developers and investors. We work with the residential, commercial and investment sectors of the market.

What is your opinion of Cyprus’ high-end property market? How was it affected by the recent international crisis?

The high end property market in Cyprus is at the early stage of development. Only in recent years has this sector attracted attention and developers started investing in building luxury properties. After the cancellation of the citizenship by investment programme, there were concerns about the sustainability of demand in this sector. However, I would say that now we can see higher and I would even say “healthier” demand. Due to the successful government policy of attracting international businesses and due to the attractive tax policy of Cyprus, many HNWI (high-net-worth individuals) are moving to Cyprus either on a temporary or permanent basis. They all have high standards and look only for the best. Our company publishes a quarterly report of residential market “Insights” where we analyse not only volume of sales but also value and price brackets.

2022 was a very successful year for real estate in spite, or I would rather say because of political and economic instability and volatility. Sales reached €5.8b out of which almost €4b were in the residential sector. Last year alone, Cyprus had over 400 transactions above €1m.

2023 so far follows the trend even though not all data is reflected in our first Q1 report due to delays in the Land Registry.

Overall, I feel positive about the market – as long as Cyprus stays attractive as a destination and as long as it continues to improve its infrastructure. We see strong demand from many international buyers. Of course, there are many challenges – some of them are outside our control, some of them can be improved. Our belief in the real estate market of Cyprus is reflected in the recent opening of our second office in Limassol.

What are the biggest trends and challenges facing the high-end property market?

HNWIs are looking for the best in terms of architecture, execution, infrastructure and services. Within this segment, our competition is the rest of the world – countries where client service is at its highest level. As a destination, Cyprus is still lacking services at the expected level. However, many projects lead the way – we see “club” style infrastructure with concierge services, all “in-house” facilities and international level of services. Branded resorts attract the attention of the buyers. It really helps that many high-end projects are already completed or close to completion. It makes the choice easier. The trends for high end real estate are best location, sea front or golf destination, very high quality of finishes and services, services, services. I have to stress the level of services once again, because in the high-end segment, this is extremely important. Infrastructure plays a role as well – we witness more and more families with children relocating to Cyprus, so it is important to have suitable facilities. Prices for high end properties show stable growth as demand so far is strong.

Despite the strong demand for high end real estate, supply might go down. Most current high-end projects started at the time of citizenship by investment, so they all had permits and investments in a more stable environment. The current state of the business environment might reduce the “appetite” for such projects. Recent VAT changes totally exclude luxury real estate from the incentive which, at the level of current prices, plays a role in investors' decisions. Investors might choose to go for resale options. There is also a possibility of high-end properties initially bought for citizenship coming to the market, thus increasing the resale supply. Possible sanctions against Russian buyers also pose a threat to this segment. There are also other factors – banks are becoming more and more difficult, there is an urgent need for more international schools in all cities as well. As a country we need to start thinking how we can “keep” international investors staying here.

Tell us a bit about yourself. You are the company’s co-founder and CEO; how did you start out and what led you to your current position?

I think I am a perfect example of people living their dream. Living by the sea and doing the work you love is a dream of many people – this is my life. I have lived in Cyprus for 22 years, working in real estate for 21 years. I love Cyprus – for me, this is a paradise island and a great place to live. I love the weather, safety, lifestyle, food, hospitality and warmth – I never felt unwelcome or a foreigner. And I am doing my best to improve it even more. And this is what I love about our work as well – we do not sell square meters, we change the life of our clients for the better, offering them this amazing lifestyle.

I have been working in real estate for over 21 years. I started as an assistant in the sales office and grew to managerial positions in one of the best developers, Pafilia Property Developers. The business environment in the construction industry in Cyprus is still very male-oriented, so that was quite an achievement. For the last four years, I have been the CEO of Cyprus Sotheby’s International Realty. It is a great honour and huge responsibility to be the ambassador of such a historic brand associated with Sotheby’s auction house with its history of over 300 years. It is about traditions, international standards, exceptional levels of service. In any corner of the world – whether in New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Cyprus – the client gets this high level. Being part of Sotheby’s family is also about access to the database of exclusive properties all over the world and about being able to offer to clients the best property all over the world.

I am very proud of what we have achieved so far – in less than four years we have grown from an office of two people to one of the leading agencies in Cyprus. We have a strong multinational sales team where we speak over 10 languages, a full-in-house marketing department and consultancy. We always carry our values of Efficiency, Expertise, Ethics and Style in everything we do. I aspire to become the brokerage where every real estate professional wishes to work.

I love what I do! I love building the team, training the team, increasing our expertise and share of the market. I often speak at professional conferences dedicated to real estate. Last year was my first try at writing when I was a co-author of the book “House abroad” where I shared my expertise about Cyprus.

Can you name a few of the current projects you are managing? And do you have any new exciting projects coming up?

We are working with a selected database of properties in Cyprus. All projects that we work with are special – they are homes for people. It is our job to find the best home for every client. It is not about the price – it is about the value for each specific client, for each specific family. Properties from our database are regularly featured in the international publications such as Financial Times, The Independent, the Wall Street Journal, to name a few. Last year we also started offering high level real estate consultancy services and worked on some of the biggest and most anticipated projects in Cyprus.

We have a tradition in our office – we celebrate every completed sale with a gong. We love this tradition – every deal and every happy sound symbolises that we helped one more client find the house of their dreams.

Finally, I would like to share exciting news – I have just returned from London where our company received the very prestigious Best European Property Awards in two categories. I am very grateful to our team for this success. It shows that we are moving in the right direction.

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