I picked up some brochures from estate agents a few weeks ago. Most of them didn't have much that suited our rather specific requirements, but a couple looked hopeful. Richard rang one of them but they said all the properties that interested us had been sold already. They took our details, and then phoned back to ask a lengthy set of questions so they could look out for suitable houses. Then they didn't get back to us.
I looked at the web-site for another of them, last week, and sent in some queries about some houses that looked possible. I had a reply about one of them this morning, but not the others. So Richard phoned and asked roughly where seven of the houses were. One of them had already been sold and four of them were too far away for our needs, since we want to be within about a mile of the churches we attend (ours is over the road from Tim's). But, the agent said, two of them were reasonably close, and they had another which wasn't yet completely built, which might suit us.
We made an appointment to look at them this afternoon. The first house was pretty close to where we live now. However it was in a rather cheerless street with almost no trees, and looked as if it needed a fair amount of work. The kitchen was lovely, and the bedrooms were quite big - the house was advertised as having three bedrooms and an office, but the 'office' was huge and could easily make a fourth bedroom. There was also a roof garden, something I wasn't too keen on, although it had an interesting view over much of Larnaka, and would have made a good place for a grapevine.
The second house wasn't just unfinished, it didn't even have walls yet. Still, it was in a nice location about ten minutes' walk from where we live now, and Richard and Tim enjoyed looking at the plans. The agent said that it would probably be complete by the summer, but from the experience of various friends who have bought new properties locally, that probably means the end of the year. Also it wasn't very big. They measure houses by floor areas here: the first one apparently had a total covered area of just over 200square metres, but this unbuilt one would be about 160 square metres. We don't want a huge place, but on the other hand when we looked before at a house that was 170 square metres it felt a bit cramped.
The third house was the furthest away, but we all liked it the best of the three. It says it's 200 square metres with three bedrooms, but in fact it's two complete properties, and those details apply to the top two storeys. Downstairs is a separate flat with another two bedrooms, and a small room that's been used as a hairdressers' as well as a big kitchen and living room. So there's lots of potential there, and many different possible ways of using it. While Daniel's away, we only need two bedrooms for ourselves and a spare for guests. A family of guests could use the whole of the ground floor and be more independent. When he comes back in a couple of years, we could either use the ground floor for all guests, or he could live downstairs if he prefers. Tim could set up a music studio downstairs, we could have parties downstairs... and when we're feeling elderly and not wanting to go up stairs all the time, we could live downstairs and rent out the top two storeys to provide some income.
Our only concern was that it would be too far away to walk to the church, particularly in summer. So this evening Richard and I set out to see if we could find it. It took about 45 minutes to get to the right street (we didn't have an address, and half the roads aren't labelled on the map anyway) but eventually he found it. Then we walked directly to the church, and it took us about 15 minutes. So for Tim, it would be about ten minutes. It's nearer than we are currently to the music school where he goes for singing and theory lessons, it's probably ten minutes walk from Richard's office, and we even found a small supermarket that's quite close.
So it has a lot of advantages. It more than meets the requirements we agreed on, and the price is excellent. There's almost no garden (although there are two car ports: one could perhaps be removed) but it's a pretty quiet area, so not too dangerous for the cats. It's rather a box-like house, but that does mean they've used the space to the full. The inside is definitely nicer than the outside.
I have quite a good feeling about this house, though it didn't exactly leap out and grab any of us. I think we'll phone the agent tomorrow and say that we're definitely interested. We don't actually know what the process is for buying a house in Cyprus: we won't need a mortgage, but presumably we'll need some kind of survey done. We know we'll have to pay quite a signfiicant amount for transfer of title deeds. But whether it's the right house? We don't know. I think we'll just have to hope and pray that if it isn't right, we'll find somewhere that does grab us before we've committed to it, or that someone else will buy it first. It's such a good deal, I'm surprised that hasn't happened already.