ECONOMY

Owners asking just a few thousand euros for small flats

The desperate efforts of an increasing number of property owners to offload real estate that has turned into a tax burden is unprecedented. Estate agents say that the economic crisis has created a new category of properties whose devaluation has been so great that they are on sale at symbolic asking prices of just 10,000-15,000 euros.

The main reason for that development is the soaring property taxes of recent years. Budget revenues from real estate next year will be eight times as high as in 2009, reaching 3.8 billion euros against 500 million euros five years earlier. The new property tax plan that includes a supplementary levy for owners of properties adding up to at least 300,000 euros is a major incentive for the sale of any excess real estate.

Today, the number of homes for sale in the classifieds at unprecedented low prices has been growing considerably over the last few weeks. This is due to the fact that such homes always had a hard time finding buyers, and today even more so. One-bedroom flats in cheaper areas of Athens such as Kato Patissia, Kypseli, Aghios Panteleimon, Sepolia and Pangrati as well as ground-floor apartments in certain areas are the biggest victims.

Even in the price range of 10,000-15,000 euros, demand is nonexistent as such properties have been completely devalued. A recent Bank of Greece survey showed that the average waiting period before a house is sold is 10 months, while the average difference between the asking price and the sale price is 20 percent. That means if those houses are sold, it will be at an even lower price, especially if they have been on the market for a long time.

Nowadays immigrants are selling their properties so they can leave the country quickly, while Greek landlords realize it is difficult to find a reliable tenant, and even if they do, the rent will be so low that the lease is often pointless considering not only the property taxes but also the tax on rental revenues. Furthermore, the single people who would rent such flats have now returned to their family homes.