Rates halved for luxury winter retreats

The sale prices of winter homes in the countryside have posted a mean decline of 49 percent since 2008, when they reached their peak, a survey by chartered surveyors Geoaxis has shown.

High-demand properties located at popular winter destinations such as Arachova, are being passed up as they are considered too luxurious. An estimated 10,000 winter retreats in that category remain on the market without demand, as the financial crisis has inflicted a heavy blow on the property industry.

In some cases the decline compared to six or seven years ago is even greater: Prices at Aghios Athanasios in Pella, west of Thessaloniki, have declined by 60 percent, averaging at 1,360 euros per square meter from 3,300 euros/sq.m. before the advent of the crisis. Arachova on Mount Parnassos has also seen a drop of over 53 percent, as average sale rates come to 1,400 euros/sq.m. today from 3,000/sq.m. a few years ago.

Despite the decline in rates, demand in this top end of the market remains close to zero. Transactions posted a remarkable annual decline of 28.2 percent in each of the five years between 2007 and 2012, according to official records.