Property prices bending to pressure
Athens Plus, 29 January 2010

Residential property prices fell 6 percent year-on-year in 2009 in the broader Attica area, according to data provided by Aspis Real Estate.

Data compiled by the realty agent showed that in the Athens basin, the prices of newly constructed homes (up to five years old) in Piraeus fell 6.8 percent in relation to the previous year, followed by drops of 5.3 percent and 5.2 percent respectively in the western and southern suburbs of Athens.

The smallest drop was in the northern part of the capital, where prices fell by 3.7 percent on an annual basis.

"There have been no sudden price drops in the residential property market in Attica, as prices continue to decline moderately [in a trend] which had started in mid-2007 and picked up in 2008 and 2009," Aspis Real Estate managing director Daniil Psomiadis said. If inflation over the three years is taken into account, average real prices dropped by 16-18 percent.

In the broader region, the biggest average drop (18.2 per cent) was recorded in Porto Ratti (detached houses), where prices fell from 2,200 euros per square meter to 1,800 euros, followed by Ano Petralona (15.5 percent) and Aspropyrgos (14.3 percent).

As for older houses in the Athens area, the largest declines were seen in the areas of Peiraiki (19 percent), the center of Zografou (15 percent), Vyronas and Perama (14.3 percent). Prices of both old and new houses remained steady in Galatsi, Ano Ilisia, Hatzikyriakio, Nea Ionia and Peristeri.

Agents predict that prices will continue to dip in 2010.

Separately, the supply of new houses is projected to drop to the lowest level in the last decade, over the 12-month period ending in June, as indicated by a recent survey of building permits issued.

The number of newly built apartments expected to have entered the construction stage since last June is around 55,000, down from 58,000 in the previous 12-month period.

National statistics show that investment in housing (at constant prices) dropped 6.8 percent in 2007, 21.9 percent in 2008 and 22 percent in 2009.

The decline is reflected in employment in the building sector, where many small and medium-sized firms last year reduced their staff by up to 40 percent relative to 2008.