Real estate prices continue falling
Athens Plus, 25 June 2010

Property prices continue to decline and are projected to fall yet further, as real estate transactions slow to a trickle. The fall to date is estimated by market players at around 20 percent compared to two years ago, and is fueled by the increasing number of owners who have put up notices of their intention to sell but have met with weak demand. According to the latest report by Hellastat, the number of transactions is expected to decline by a further 50 percent this year, after the 36 percent drop last year from 116,000 in 2008 to 73,300.

In addition to weak demand, the report has noted the relative reluctance of banks to grant loans and the large stock of unsold new apartments - estimated at around 200,000 - as reasons for the market slump.

The primary feature of the market at present seems to be prospective investors turning toward smaller and used apartments - a trend that has intensified over the past two months, since the announcement of the latest tax measures. Even though the prices of such dwellings seem to be the most resistant to the decline, studio and two-room apartments older than 20 years in the center of the city can be acquired for a mere 150,000 euros. Their attractiveness is boosted by the fact that there is strong demand for renting them.

In all the other categories, the sellers are mostly people who need cash urgently - and are therefore prepared to offer large discounts - and buyers are those who have cash and do not need loans - including many who have been alarmed about the security of their savings due to Greece’s economic woes and are anxious not to appear to have large cash balances in the bank. Many such buyers have adopted aggressive tactics, demanding large discounts, and frequently are able to achieve price cuts of more than 20 percent.

Many attractive opportunities are cropping up in areas that have witnessed a building boom in recent years, such as Gerakas, Pallini, Spata and Koropi in Attica. In Gerakas, for instance, prices of newly built apartments begin at 2,300 euros per square meter. On the other side of the city, in Aegaleo, where prices stood at about 2,400 euros/sq.m. two years ago, they are now around 2,000 euros. In areas such as Maroussi, Halandri and Aghia Paraskevi, prices have fallen less steeply. The drop mostly affects apartments larger than 100 sq.m. The prices of country houses, however, appear to have fallen the furthest.

The next test period for the market is projected to be the months before the upward revision of the officially determined (for tax purposes) property values - which is seen as being early in 2011.