Property owners protest reforms
Athens Plus, 12 February 2010

Property owners and real estate-related professionals are up in arms over the government’s planned changes to taxation. At a press briefing on February 9, 10 representative agencies denounced the current process of consultation as a sham and threatened legal suits should the new measures violate the Greek Constitution.

Developers claimed that the drop in building licenses in Attica amounted to 37 percent in 2009 and 70 percent over the last three years, and sounded the warning bell that rising unemployment in the sector and the accelerating pace of recession in commercial property and its related sectors will cause a social backlash.

The warning came just days after Finance Ministry officials told the annual conference of Panhellenic Federation of Property Owners (POMIDA) that the government was resolved this year to raise its so-called objective ("antikimeniki") property rates, which apply for tax purposes on transactions, vary according to area and are reviewed every few years. The objective rates were last reviewed in 2007.

POMIDA had asked that new reviews be postponed until the economic downturn is over.

POMIDA is also urging the government to move on the planned restoration of the Large Property Holdings Tax (FMAP) for properties valued at over 1 million euros. It is also claiming that taxation on properties that remain vacant and yield no income is unconstitutional. According to official statistics, the number of new building licenses was down 15.3 percent nationwide in January-November 2009.

The POMIDA conference also heard from officials that the Environment Ministry is set to announce a package of incentives for energy-saving measures in old buildings which includes tax breaks, mortgage rate subsidies and credit facilities for heat insulation and the installation of solar panels.

The officials said that the ministry is studying the full subsidization of the cost of the energy upgrade of old buildings - necessary to obtain the energy efficiency certificates that will be required in transactions.