We talked to Sunlife Homes Director Sharam Vatani about the advantages of investing in Northern Cyprus and the expectations of global investors. Details are in our interview.
Sharam Vatani, Director of Sunlife Homes, talked about the importance of Northern Cyprus for investment, the expectations of global investors, from which regions they invest in why.
Details are in our interview.
Expertise in Digital Marketing
Let’s get started by getting to know you better, how would you describe Sunlife Homes? What is your concept and your area of expertise?
I am born in Iran but raised in Stockholm, Sweden. Educated in marketing and communication and have worked as a marketing manager in several large Swedish companies over the years. In 2008, I started my own digital marketing agency with the main purpose of helping other companies to set up a successful marketing strategies and online branding.
I have always been interested in entrepreneurship, business and especially the real estate sector. In 2015, I was invited to visit North Cyprus for the first time through the property sector and immediately fell in love with the country and especially the people here and also became inspired by the dynamics and potential of the property sector. Then I decided to give a try.
The first year I worked as a Swedish agent for a local real estate agency to get to know the property market and its laws and regulations. At that time, North Cyprus was quite unknown to Swedes and Scandinavians, so most of the work was to promote the country and property market in general.
In 2016, I decided to start Sunlife Homes, a Swedish based real estate agency specializing in holiday homes and investment properties in North Cyprus. My vision has always been to run a professional agency that offer the best service, communication, information, materials and a good relationship with customers and construction companies.
Any preferred areas you’re active in and why?
We are mainly active in the northern coastline, from Kyrenia and neighboring areas to east of Kyrenia in the Esentepe region. Most Scandinavians and northern Europeans prefer these areas because it is the greenest area with incredibly beautiful nature where the sea meets the mountain range. Here you can find Korineum golf course and nice hiking trails. Esentepe is a protected area so you cannot build more than two floors, this makes the land more valuable and almost everyone gets a nice sea view. In this area, property prices have risen more than other areas in the resent years and we believe this will continue.
“The Advantages of Esentepe Are Too Many”
What is distinguishing your company from others? What are you doing differently?
We are not a local agency so our way of working is of course sometimes different. When you are dealing with foreign investors you are not only selling a property, but a package of a property, lifestyle and its benefits. Usually they know quite little about the property market and the regulation. For us it is very important to build a good relationship with them, to get to know them, their needs and demands to be able to guide them to the right property and help them through the buying process. We simply do most of the job before they arrive to Cyprus.
Which countries are your customers from? What kind of investment are they looking for?
Our customers are mainly from Scandinavia and northern Europe, but also from southern Europe and the Middle East.
Most of our customers are interested in seafront properties as a holiday home or second home with high investment potential. They expect a good increase in the value of the property and in some cases good rental opportunities.
Which means do you use to connect with them? Any plans to expand your market?
We put a lot of focus on our website so it has a modern and clean design with easy navigation and high performance, and of course it contains all the updated information our customers need. As our marketing plan, we do various digital marketing activities such as social media, ads and email marketing. We also have agents in Scandinavia who actively market our products.
At the moment our website is in English and Swedish but there are plans to add more languages in the near future and also have agents in other countries.
You are specialized in global investors. What are their expectations from a property? What are their demands? In which matters do you support them?
They expect a property with good quality in European standards, advantageous payment options and of course great return of investment. They expect a smooth buying process and also that everything goes according to the plan.
We support our customers from start to finish. Provide all necessary information and documents, negotiate the price and other terms and help them through the purchase and legal process.
In which way has the property market in North Cyprus been affected by the restrictions imposed during the pandemic? How did you manage the process?
Just like other sectors, the property market has been negatively affected by the pandemic, especially the first six months when there was almost total lockdown here. The foreign buyers were more effected because they couldn’t even enter to the country due to travel restrictions and closing of borders. Another factor that played a major role was the global financial crisis and the insecurity in the world economy, which made many investors wait with their buying decisions.
The positive thing about the pandemic has been that it forced the whole property sector to be more creative in their sales and marketing processes. For instance, construction companies now create more high quality digital materials for their projects, such as 360 tours, virtual viewings, video, images, etc. This is great for everyone.
We, like everyone else in this business, found other ways to deal with the situation. For example by online meetings, virtual viewings and other tools that helped us in our sales process. We will probably use some of these tools even after the pandemic.
Now that the restrictions are eased worldwide, is there any movement in the sector? Is there a change in the buyer’s profile compared to the pre-pandemic era? What is your prognosis for the future of the property market in North Cyprus?
Absolutely, during the last six months we have noticed a clear increase in prospected customers compared to the first pandemic year.
I don’t think the buyer’s profile has changed that much but they are more concerned about all the travel restrictions and different documents and tests they have to deal with to enter the country, especially older people.
We have seen an increased interest in the property market in recent years and I believe that it will continue to do so specially in the new developments that offer a better quality in some cases environmental friendly.
What is the expectation of the global investor when thinking about North Cyprus? What kind of details are they interested in?
Cyprus has always been a tourist attraction, known for its pleasant weather, fine beaches, crystal clear sea, good food and friendly people.
People have different wishes and priorities when they invest. Most of them, especially from Scandinavian countries are interested to be near the sea and nature. Having sea view and large patios are also other factors that are important.
“The Increase of Value and Quality of Real Estate is Very Important”
In your opinion, what are the reasons for international clients to invest in North Cyprus? Is their preference based on the advantageous pricing or are there other reasons for buying here?
Advantageous prices are of course attractive, especially when you compare it to other Mediterranean countries. But there are many other factors that make them choose to invest here. Cyprus is a paradise island that offers a peaceful lifestyle, far from the stressful life of Scandinavian and northern European countries. Here you can live a healthy life with fresh local food, do lots of outdoor activities or just relax in your terrace and read your favorite book. Here you will be treated with respect and humility no matter who you are.
Is the political status of the TRNC a concern or an obstacle for the foreign buyer at all?
People who don’t know much about the North Cyprus and its history and believe in all the negativity and false propaganda that exist, might be affected. We are all just humans and can easily be affected by everything we hear and read.
Selling lifestyle properties is your area of expertise and you are in contact with buyers from many countries. What could be done better to enhance the “brand value” of North Cyprus and subsequently contribute to the volume of sales generally?
North Cyprus is a young country and developing very fast, something I have seen myself during these years. But in order to attract more investors and especially quality investors, this country needs to be more modern, with better roads, roads with lighting, modern public transportation, modern authorities, faster internet and of course hopefully soon direct flights, to mention a few.
The brand of North Cyprus should be market internationally to show the world the true face of this country and break the status quo. We have been doing this for a few years but it’s not enough. This must be done by everyone, especially the government.
Do you have any messages for prospective investors?
I RECOMMEND NORTH CYPRUS TO EVERYONE. Here is an incredibly beautiful nature, always close to the sea with crystal clear water, delicious organic food, safe land and most important of all; warm and friendly people who make you feel at home. Here you can live a good life with affordable prices.
Property prices are still significantly lower than other Mediterranean countries but rise steadily every year. Investing in properties here is a really good idea. A wonderful lifestyle with a good return on investment.
What are your thoughts about Kıbrıs Emlak Merkezi, enabling easy access to global investors to research and follow the news about developers, projects, properties, real estate agencies, and agents in Turkish; English, and Russian at our digital platform?
KEM is a great and modern source of information and news about the real estate sector in North Cyprus. This is exactly what global investors need to be able to follow everything that happens in the industry and also to take part of all guides and practical tips regarding real estate.
KIBRIS EMLAK MERKEZİ
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