Dozens of property registry offices are hanging in the balance due to the drastic drop in the number of property transactions since the onset of Greece’s financial crisis.
The ongoing uncertainty, along with Greece’s plan to create a new digitized land registry in their stead, is expected to compromise the job security of employees.
Greece’s ongoing attempts to create an electronic land registry date to 1994 and the country has received millions in EU funding to do so, while the SYRIZA-led coalition has pledged to have it completed by 2020.
According to the government’s plan, this new digitized land registry will incorporate the 300 antiquated property registry offices around the country – which record property sales, purchases and transfers.
But employees say their jobs will be at risk as only 17 of these registries are staffed by Justice Ministry employees. The rest are run by private individuals who provide the state with revenues, minus operational costs and profits.
Employees fear that once the land registry is set up, most will lose their jobs because public sector hirings will be considerably reduced by then as Greece’s continues its efforts to streamline its public sector.
In the meantime, with transactions at all-time lows, most of these offices are mired in debt and have become increasingly difficult to sustain financially, as is the case of the Marathonas registry, which has seen its revenues plummet over the last six years.
“In 2010 we had 7,200 transactions whereas in 2015 we had just 1,987 – half of which were connected to inheritances for which the registrar receives a standard 9-euro fee,” explained the chief registrar at Marathonas, Christos Christopoulos, who added that most registry offices have seen an 80 percent drop in business.
“Revenues are lower than expenses, forcing the registrar to cover office operation costs by himself,” he added.