State of the market: A quick and slow start to 2007!
West Crete Journal, April 2007

>After shrewd early-season buyers snapped up some of our best properties, the local sellers have been slow in coming forward with new properties for sale. Usually, they start to approach us after the olive harvest, in January, and before they start working in tourism, in May/June.

This year however, no doubt after waiting to see what changes the Greek government would make to property taxes and permit fees (announced in late February and March), local sellers are only now starting to sign papers to sell their properties.

Because on average it takes at least a month to receive all the necessary documents and check the property title, ability to build, etc., it is clear that there will be a shortage of supply for the early summer period: two months into the 2007 season, and we have around 30% fewer properties on our books.

We have also noticed a higher proportion of over-priced, difficult or illegal properties being offered for sale. For example, this month we have been offered over 30 properties, but after checks found only 4 suitable - a rejection rate of 87%!

Apart from the usual attempts at over-pricing (anything with even a hint of a sea view is being offered at double or triple the going rate), we have been offered: detached houses outside village limits (illegal); major renovations without permits or structural plans (illegal and potentially dangerous); properties with no access (useless); properties without title (useless); and large plots outside village limits for sub-division (very difficult to do nowadays).

No doubt some dubious sellers are "trying it on" because our new offices make them believe we're new to this, but we've been around long enough to spot time-wasting properties from a long way off! Bearing in mind our long local experience, we cannot stress enough that buyers should be very cautious of "going it alone" and buying a property from someone's friendly cousin in the kafeneion ... one of the surest ways of losing your hard-earned money!

The current shortage of good clean properties inevitably means some price increases in the long run, however when re-negotiating existing properties, we are finding that the number of price reductions more or less balance the number of price increases at the moment. We have of course withdrawn a few properties where the new requested price was unrealistic.

Because of planning laws introduced at the end of 2003, it is now very difficult to sub-divide large plots of land outside village limits, and the effect (as planned by the Greek government) has limited the number of available countryside plots and concentrated development in and around the villages and towns. Probably a wise decision, because - as the old saying goes - "they don't grow land any more".

This year for the first time, we have noticed a marked increase in sales of properties inside towns and villages (perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised!) - a sign that the property market is maturing here, and that foreign buyers are getting more realistic about the necessity of a sea view and their own olive grove - nice to have of course, but not prerequisites for a lifsetyle change or an investment decision!

Best selling properties at the moment:
1. Sensibly-priced plots with sea views
2. Plots without sea views but of sufficient size to give privacy
3. Properties within urban areas.
4. Good quality modern homes (in short supply)