BUSINESS

Property auctions are stepping up

EVGENIA TZORTZI

TAGS: Economy, Banking

The number of planned auctions of properties seized from borrowers has exceeded 20,000 on the online auction platform, but investment interest remains limited and the majority go back to the banks.

According to data from the official website (www.eauction.gr), more than 20,200 auctions are scheduled to take place by May 2019, confirming that the process has accelerated to 40,000 auctions per annum.

Data seen by Kathimerini show that 10,410 online auctions have taken place since last November, when the platform started operating. Less than half resulted in a sale, with some 5,600 of them remaining unsold.

Of the 4,810 properties that have been transferred through the online platform in the last 11 months, the vast majority have ended up in banks’ portfolios, Kathimerini has learned. Lenders bought back over 80 percent of the properties they themselves had put up for auction, or about 3,800 properties. These assets drew no interest from third parties so they were transferred at the starting price, which was close to their market value.

Banks are expected to continue with their policy of buying back the properties they auction, in an effort to recover part of the overdue debts that add up to 69 billion euros. The properties they choose to buy back are those seen as having a chance at attracting buyers on the market.

Bank officials explain that the gradual rebound of property prices on the market is mainly thanks to apartment purchases for use as short-term rentals, as advertised on platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway, or by non-European Union buyers looking to obtain a Golden Visa (who must spend at least 250,000 euros). Banks either sell the properties to funds in packages or put them up for sale individually or via their property management subsidiaries.

Demand for properties on the Eauction site is so disappointing that the process has failed in its task to serve as an instrument to restart the property market, so an effort is now being made to make searching for properties on the platform easier.

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