Note, we cannot corroborate any aspect of this story. It is the claim of an investment buyer published on an open internet forum, shared only to service as a warning to be cautious in your property investment. Check, check & check again.
From a Client of MRI in Cyprus (one of hundreds we see from MRI clients around the world)
In May 2007 I decided it was time to invest in an off-plan property abroad (oh well!). I found MRI’s website (amongst others) and made enquiries specifically about Cyprus, as the research I had done indicated this would bring a good return. At first everything was fine. MRI offered to fly my partner and myself out to Cyprus and pay for our hotel accommodation (from memory we had to pay for the flights up front and were then refunded – we didn’t have a problem with that). We were picked up from the airport by Chris Christodoulous, aka Harry, and driven to the St Georges hotel near Paphos, where I had expressed an interest in buying a property. For the first two days we were shown all sorts of totally unsuitable properties but finally we were given the first look at a new development in Tala. We were put under considerable pressure to commit to buy, but to be fair there were other buyers interested in the apartments and we did get what, originally, seemed to be the best one of the complex. So far so good. We were then swept up in a whirlwind as MRI whizzed us from development to their office, to the bank (Alpha) for the recommended Swiss Franc mortgage, to the solicitor (Emily Lemoniati) and back to the hotel. We literally didn’t have time to think and, in spite of all the research I’d done in advance, I believe we were well and truly conned.
We had that uneasy feeling you get when you sort of know something’s wrong but you can’t put your finger on it. Too late we were told of this fee and that fee and gradually realised the incompetence of the solicitor chosen for us. We were put under a lot of pressure to sign up for MRI’s furniture package and after-sales service but luckily we felt so fleeced by the time we left we declined to sign up for anything further on the spot. Good call! When we went out to chose finishes in September 2009 we found that MRI’s office had shut down and everyone we spoke to in Cyprus seemed to be hiding something when we asked questions about it. We got the impression from conversations with the developer that something dodgy had been happening and picked up from some of the management companies we contacted that the solicitor was part of the mafia used by MRI and was not to be trusted. By this time we knew we were in deep trouble with the solicitor anyway but none of the other firm s we contacted would even consider picking up our case without ‘the file’ which, needless to say, we have to pay the solicitor their full demand to get. We did receive a hint that several other people had contacted one of the alternative solicitors with very similar stories about the same firm.
We are now in a situation where we have an apartment that is 13 months and counting overdue; the outside of the apartment looks absolutely nothing like the drawings; the mortgage is due to start in April but the latest estimate from the developer of the delivery date is the end of June; the developer is totally unresponsive and unsympathetic – in fact from what I understand we are very lucky we have the physical manifestation of a property at all; the mortgage is now worth 150+% of the apartment’s original price, let alone what it may be worth now… all in all, an outright disaster.
Whilst most of this tome does not directly concern MRI, we blame them explicitly for poor advice regarding the property value (although one must be realistic and remember they were acting for the developer and not for us); practically forcing us to make a decision far too quickly; pushing us into using their preferred solicitor who is not only trying to over-charge us, but is now bribing us in order to be paid and who has done absolutely nothing in our interests in terms of invoking penalty clauses, etc. Buyer beware and all that, but it has been one hugely expensive mistake.
I am hoping that by joining this forum I will be able to find out about others’ experiences in Cyprus and perhaps may make alliances which may prove useful to everyone concerned.
Name withheld, published on an Overseas Investment Forum