Small apartments are safest bet
Athens Plus, 2 April 2010

The tax reform bill being debated in Parliament paints a rather gloomy outlook for the property market, experts say, arguing that its provisions introduce new burdens on owners and essentially no breaks that might have rekindled buying interest.

The category of expensive properties - those valued above 600,000 euros - will bear the brunt of the new measures as there is bound to be little buying interest. Areas in which the so-called "objective" values (officially set minimum rates revised every few years for tax purposes) are above 2,000 euros per square meter will also be seriously hit due to the lowering of the tax-free ceilings for those who wish to buy new homes to 200,000 euros and 300,000 euros for single people and families respectively. The new ceilings will make anyone considering buying a home larger than 100 sq.m. think again, as they will have to pay a 10 percent tax.

The probable upward revision of objective values in 2011 is considered critical, as it will affect even more first-home buyers. If for instance, a single person now buys a house worth 200,000 euros, he or she will pay no tax. If the objective rate for the zone goes up by 30 percent, the value of the property will rise to 260,000 euros and its sale will be subject to a tax of 6,000 euros.

Most interest is expected to be focused on cheap and middle-priced areas with relatively low objective values and good prospects, such as Mesogeia and some Athens neighborhoods. Small apartments of 70-100 square meters should be favored, particularly properties that are 3-10 years old and need few or no repairs, as well as older houses that can realize large capital gains with minimal repairs.

Prospective investors should look for small apartments or studio flats that have remained unsold for some time, as their prices are least likely to drop due to the comparatively strong demand.