BUSINESS

Foreign firms niche in on Greek property

NIKOS ROUSSANOGLOU

TAGS: Property, Business

An international network promoting Greek apartments and holiday homes in select countries has started developing over the last few months, as a result of the growing demand by foreign investors for properties in Greece.

This has seen the emergence of platforms advertising local assets in countries with a traditionally high interest in the purchase of Greek property, in most cases in cooperation with domestic estate agencies. Several foreign companies promoting local properties have even set up local branches in Athens to facilitate interested buyers.

One such initiative has recently started in Berlin. Over 6,000 properties in Greece have already been advertised on the ferimmo.de platform, even though it was only set up in October. The startup’s website is primarily aimed at investors in Germany, but is plotting its expansion to other German-speaking countries or regions, such as Austria, and parts of Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

Ferimmo chief executive Marios Christodoulou tells Kathimerini that “recent surveys of the German market have confirmed the growing interest of German individuals in acquiring properties in Greece, as they rank the country among their top 10 choices for housing purchases abroad. The gradual stabilization of the Greek economy and its growth prospects are generating a good atmosphere and sharpened intentions to invest in our country among German enterprises and individuals,” notes Christodoulou, explaining the reasons for setting up Ferimmo.

A recent study by the companies FeWo-direkt (a member of the Expedia-HomeAway group) and Engel & Voelkers (a network of estate agencies) put Greece among the top 10 preferences of Germans interested in buying a holiday home outside of Germany.

Crete and the Ionian islands are the most popular destinations for German investors in Greece. According to Christodoulou, the above survey found that over 230,000 Germans are interested exclusively in Greek properties, which means that even if half of them go ahead and make purchases in the next few years, a property worth an average of 100,000 euros, this represents the creation of a potential market worth over 11 billion euros.

Ferimmo has forged a strategic cooperation with the German-Greek Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and is promoting properties in collaboration with Greek estate agents.

Similar activities are emerging in other countries too, such as Russia, where more investors are seeking friendly destinations for the transfer of capital and enterprises, in the form of an investment refuge.

Greece’s popularity is on the rise, mainly thanks to the potential of its property market for high returns through short-term leasing and its Golden Visa program, which has the lowest threshold in the market for residence permits.

In this context Russian property company Tranio has expanded its presence in Greece over the last couple of years, and now has permanent staff based in this country, while its website is already advertising some 700 properties in Greece, all in Athens. Some belong to Tranio itself, as the company has bought out and renovated a number of properties for resale to its Russian clients.

According to George Kachmazov, “the low apartment prices in the center of Athens and high demand are contributing toward high yields for investors. For example, through utilization on homesharing platforms, a renovated flat in Athens can offer an annual return of 5 to 7 percent, against 3 percent in most European capitals. There is also the prospect of future capital gains, as we forecast that prices will grow by 20 to 30 percent in the next two or three years,” Kachmazov explains.

One of the companies that has created a branch in Greece is the Atlantian Capital investment group. This is an Australian company funded by Chinese capital. It has positioned itself in property markets with great demand by Chinese investors. Property market sources say Atlantian recently acquired a block of eight apartments at Votanikos, west of central Athens, and is in the process of buying another block of 15 flats at Ampelokipi, north of the center and another of 25 units just south of the city center. Atlantian’s objective is to renovate the properties and resell them to Chinese buyers seeking a Golden Visa.



Foreigners’ interest in Greek properties is far from theoretical, and comprises a large share of actual demand. A survey by the National Bank of Greece published last week showed that about 40 percent of existing demand for properties in Greece comes from abroad.
 
Given that countries such as Canada, the US and Australia have tightened procedures for accepting and issuing permits for non-European investors, Greece and Cyprus are becoming increasingly attractive to Chinese and other third-country investors seeking more friendly programs.
 
In the housing sector in particular, the NBG survey found that 70 percent of demand concerns small apartments in Attica, as a result of the short-term rental phenomenon and the opportunities it offers for the utilization of properties. Foreigners are also majorly interested in tourism properties, i.e. holiday homes and hotel units. Demand is soaring, especially in Attica, with 75 percent of estate agencies surveyed reporting high investment interest.
 
This coincides with high tourism growth in the capital, as the number of overnight stays in Attica expanded by 78 percent from 2013 to 2018, against a 43 percent rate of growth in the rest of the country.
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