Upmarket bargains for those with cash
Athens News, 2 October 2009

It is common knowledge that economic slumps, such as the current one, always present buying opportunities but that these are often not obvious.

Real estate agents are of the opinion that opportunities at present can mainly be found in larger and more expensive properties, the market for which flourished in recent years before the slump. These concern mainly large residences, measuring more than 150 square meters, including maisonettes.

The prevailing situation on the market today is due to the fact that in recent years this particular segment grew at an especially fast pace, mainly via bank loans.

A large proportion of buyers were businesspeople and the self employed who, projecting future profits, considered it in their best interest to invest in purchases. But with the onset of the economic crisis, particularly the liquidity crunch that has hit the market, many have been driven to sell, either because they've been unable to meet their mortgage agreements or in order to obtain capital for the continued operation of their business activities. But the lack of buyers has made them gradually trim their asking prices. Real estate agents have noted that in this particular category of properties, there have been sales at prices of up to 25 percent lower than would have applied in the same area for similar houses a year go.

Similar trends and opportunities seem to be growing in the category of commercial properties, where many leasers have signed contracts but have been unable to keep up with payments due to the crisis.

On the whole, realtors estimate that sales are down at least 30 percent from last year and that there will be no sign of light at the end of the tunnel before the end of 2009.

Nevertheless, choice properties seem to have no problem being sold, they add. By contrast, apartments in downmarket areas may take as long as two years to find a buyer.