The growth rate of construction activity across Greece slowed in March compared to the previous month, according to data released on Friday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). This is the first sign of a slowdown after the rapid growth recorded in the previous three months that came thanks to government measures to bolster construction, and mainly the suspension of the 24% value-added tax on new buildings.
The ELSTAT figures showed that total construction activity amounted to 1,305 building permits in March, corresponding to 314,300 square meters and over 1.4 million cubic meters; this constituted a rise of 10.2% in the number of permits, 42% growth in surface area and 55.8% in volume compared to the same month in 2019.
Private construction activity amounted to 1,296 permits, 310,800 sq.m. and 1.38 billion c.m., with permits up 9.8%, area up 40.6% and volume up 53.8% year-on-year. However, the increase in private construction activity in February had seen permits increase 63.2%, area expand 67.8% and volume grow 70.3% on an annual basis.
Interestingly, the picture is reversed in Attica: In terms of volume, the increase in March came to 93%, from 71.8% in February. Besides Attica, there was also a considerable increase in construction volume in Central Greece (80.2%), Central Macedonia (53.2%) and Epirus – where the rise came to 287.6% but concerned a particularly small number of licenses.
In the year’s first quarter, activity across Greece rose annually by 42.7% as regards permits, 54.8% in terms of surface area and 57.2% in the matter of volume.
However, property market professionals stress that in April and May it is certain that construction activity was affected by the pandemic in a similar way to most other economic sectors.
Most industry insiders argue that construction will not revert to the pace of the year’s first few months before the end of 2020. Normalization will require the return of property sales to a satisfactory rate, at least in transaction volume, for new investments in construction to proceed.