ECONOMY

Mountain house prices climb as Greeks and foreigners invest in cool-air retreats

High demand has pushed house prices in certain mountainous spots in Greece to such levels that buying a winter country retreat there has become the privilege of the few. The most popular areas are Parnassus, Kalavryta, Pelion, Metsovo, Elati in Trikala, Mount Olympus, Karpenissi, Florina and southern Corinthia. A large part of the demand comes from foreigners, who consider properties in the Greek mountains comparatively cheap. Greeks, in turn, mostly rent accommodation either for the winter term or for the whole year. Their preferences have remained fairly standard over the last few years, mainly choosing the cosmopolitan villages of the Parnassus and Pelion mountains as the ski centers and other infrastructure there allows for the development of entertainment activities, supporting the housing market. Prices have particularly risen through purchases and renovations of old houses as well as plot sales, and have reached levels similar to those seen for summer houses in Myconos, Santorini and other expensive islands in the Aegean. Plots in some cases cost as much as 300 euros per square meter, while traditional houses can reach sky-high cost levels. The housing market at Parnassus is more like the exclusive suburbs of Ekali and Psychico in Athens: Prices range from 2,100 to 3,230 euros/sq.m. Delphi and Itea also are highly developed areas but are 10 to 30 percent cheaper. More affordable are rates at nearby Livadi and Agorianni, with plots of 100 and 200 sq.m. at half-price compared to Arachova. Pelion is definitely cheaper, with Makrynitsa and Portaria having the greatest demand as they are closer to Volos, while Vyzitsa, Tsangarada, Zagora and Milies attract a growing number of buyers every year. House sale prices at the mountain of Magnesia range from 2,000 to 2,500 euros/sq.m. On the other hand, there is always another solution for those who do not want to commit their capital, or simply do not have it: Renting by the season or by the year is a trend growing in popularity. At Parnassus, season rental costs about 10 euros/sq.m. per month. For a year or more prices average at 6 euros/sq.m. per month. Therefore an 80 sq.m. house (the most popular size) costs up to 800 euros per month for the whole season or from 480 euros per month if booked for a year or more. Rates at Pelion and Kalavryta are similar, but they fall to about half that at Elati, Pertouli, southern Corinthia and Nafpaktia. For those choosing serenity, away from cosmopolitan destinations with organized ski centers, the benefit is double as most mountainous Greek areas are exceptionally low-priced, according to real estate experts. In mountainous Corinthia, and particularly at Stymfalia and Kastania, which are 60 to 90 minutes away from Athens, the demand for plots and ready houses is huge. Developable land costs up to 59 euros/sq.m., while houses average at 1,100 euros/sq.m. Mount Olympus is a similar case, with Litohoro attracting many buyers from Germany. Plot prices range from 5.6 to 30 euros/sq.m., and house prices from 600 to 1,200 euros/sq.m. Finally in Metsovo, near Ioannina, plots could reach 59 euros/sq.m. and traditional houses cost over 1,200 euros/sq.m.