The trends in the Greek real estate market according to Engel & Volkers Greece
The country has a lot to offer and also arouses supraregional interest through extraordinary projects. The Tower of Piraeus, for example, has met with a positive response.
“The prospects for the Greek real estate market in the coming years can be described as positive and promising. In 2023, it can be assumed that, after the upcoming elections in spring, at the latest, the real estate market will continue to rise up significantly," has Engel & Volkers Greece head George Petras commented on a company's recent report.
The market has been on a noticeably rising course again since 2018. Prices have risen strongly in recent years. On average, over the last four years, properties have recovered about half of the 40% loss in value caused by the prolonged financial crisis. In premium locations, prices have risen even more strongly. The financial crisis from 2010 to 2018 also resulted in a very low level of construction activity, which, in conjunction with the increased demand, is now leading to a shortage of new/prime properties.
Greece is once again very popular with national and international investors, and the wait-and-see attitude - especially in the primary residence market - is gradually giving way to great interest in attractive investments. The real estate prices which remain moderate compared to other European countries - both in the metropolitan areas of Athens and Thessaloniki as well as on the islands combined with the good availability of real estate and corresponding impulses from the Greek government, seem to be keeping the market stable despite all the turbulence. Due to the dynamics of the Greek economy and the actual demand for real estate, market participants are likely to abandon the current restraint in the coming months.
The temporary restraint of buyers on the market caused by the pandemic crisis as well as the war in Ukraine have also left their mark since last year. The consequences included a rise in construction costs, increased interest charges and rising inflationary pressure.
In practice, however, the rise in interest rates has had different effects: Mortgage interest rates have been burdened by the rise in the Euribor, thus increasing the costs for the borrower, but on the other hand, the desire to hedge against inflation through a property has become greater. Currently, about 25 percent of sales are transacted via a mortgage loan. For 2023, an increase in new mortgage loans to about 30 percent is estimated, although the demand for new mortgage loans has declined in recent months due to the rise in interest rates.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the challenges of recent years and the successful handling of them, Greece continues to develop into a place to be. The country has a lot to offer and also arouses supraregional interest through extraordinary projects. The Tower of Piraeus, for example, has met with a positive response. The second tallest building in Greece stood empty for several decades but following spectacular conversion and renovation measures, it will be handed over to its new purpose as a modern business building at the end of the year.
Last but not least, the spectacular project of Hellinikon located on the site of the former Athens airport is now considered the largest urban construction project in Europe. Here, on the outskirts of Athens, a superlative urban expansion is being built with infrastructure for trade, housing and tourism on a total area of 6.2 million square meters. The Greek economy is also expecting positive effects from this project, not least through international investors and about 70,000 new jobs.
As already mentioned before, Greeks are currently partly reluctant concerning investments in real estate. On the one hand, prices have risen sharply and, at the same time, construction prices have also risen - as in most countries. In addition, the rising interest rates and the energy issue that has arisen due to the war in Ukraine, can lead to financing difficulties, especially for buyers of small homes. The Greek government is making great efforts to protect the domestic population from the crisis-related additional costs of energy through extensive support programmes, but it will not be able to absorb all the negative factors expected, due to inflation. One of the various support programmes running at the moment, is that the Greek government is subsidizing loans for 10,000 young home buyers for the first time, thus making its contribution to supporting the real estate market as part of the national growth programme.
The shortage of real estate has been further exacerbated by the tourist use of many units (e.g. Airbnb) and therefore, has led to a strong increase in rents in the said regions. In addition, the lack of residential construction occurring between the years of 2010 to 2017 in the big cities had also a negative impact on rental prices. Therefore, under these conditions, it is not expected that rental prices will change noticeably in 2023.
Second Home Market
For private investors looking for a holiday home, Greece has again attracted many buyers. German, Austrian and Swiss buyers are currently at the top of the list, followed by US, English, Spanish and French buyers. The still moderate prices, combined with the availability of properties are the main arguments making Greece their first choice. The reduced supply of holiday homes on the most popular islands such as Mykonos and Santorini has led buyers’ interest in new areas such as Paros and smaller islands which are currently being discovered and prioritized by these target groups. It can be assumed that this trend will continue in 2023.
Regarding the transaction time needed for a property sale, the upcoming elections in Greece are expected to influence the course of the market this year. It already takes longer to complete a transaction for a property and it is expected that the pace will slow down once again during the election period from the responsible authorities, mortgage offices, etc.
In this context, it also remains to be seen under which conditions the Greek state will continue the Golden Visa programme in 2023. Until now, non-EU citizens in Greece had to invest at least 250,000 euros in a property in order to obtain a residence permit for themselves and their family, which also entitles them to travel to all other Schengen states. Currently, it has been decided to proceed in two categories: In certain metropolitan areas, 500,000 euros of investment are required to qualify for the Golden Visa, while in less frequented locations only 250,000 euros are sufficient to enjoy the benefits of the visa.
Last but not least, competitive labor costs and well-trained, multilingual staff make Greece a potential nearshoring location. The reforms of the last few years have reduced bureaucracy and thus, also led to faster processing of approval procedures. In addition, foreigners who move their primary residence to Greece will continue to enjoy tax benefits in the future.