The shape of Attica’s property market has changed beyond recognition in the last five years, with the metro as well as the new Proastiakos (suburban) railway pushing several areas higher up the price list. The shift will be completed with the expansion of the Proastiakos across the region, bringing a new balance to the capital’s map. In a previous article in Kathimerini, Dionysios Hionis, chairman of the Proastiakos company, suggested that the new trains that will link Athens with the neighboring cities of Corinth, Halkida, Thebes and Kiato are set to turn Athenian suburbs and the capital’s «satellite cities» into autonomous development centers. «The Proastiakos ‘stabilizes’ access to and from suburbs and even more for satellite cities. A citizen of Corinth, for example, knows that in less than an hour, he will be in Athens whatever the weather or traffic conditions,» said Hionis. With three months remaining till the Proastiakos begins its scheduled hourly service between Corinth and the railway hub at Acharnes or Athens Airport, estate agents are already reporting a surge in property demand and prices in Corinth and its suburbs (Lecheon, Assos, Periyiali). House prices range between 1,500 and 2,000 euros per square meter. Unlike the metro, which has had a big impact on small zones around stations, the Proastiakos is expected to gradually affect large areas in Attica and the prefectures nearby. «There will be considerable population shifts, within Attica at first, as people move out to the Mesogeia area, as well as western Attica (Aspropyrgos, Mandra), and then in moves to neighboring prefectures, particularly to the terminals of the rail network,» Hionis predicted. This brings those areas closer to the capital’s economy, he stressed, as the positive impact on property prices, the local job market and the stability of access «will have very important secondary effects, mainly the increase of investment in those suburbs or cities.» The Proastiakos is expected to reach Halkida in spring 2006, and Kiato and Thebes by the end of next year. Metro’s impact In turn, the effect of the metro on certain neighborhoods in Athens has been huge and is well documented. Data suggest that in the last four years, the average price per square meter in Attica has increased by 75 percent, from 965 euros to 1,660 euros. The rise appears greater where there was some margin for a rise, such as at Sepolia and Neos Cosmos, unlike the Acropolis area, where the rise was a modest 22 percent, due to the already high prices (1,800 euros/sq.m. in 1998) and the few new buildings. In areas such as Aghios Meletios, Attiki and Sepolia, where prices used to be low until the metro came, it now costs 1,000 euros per square meter from 500 euros in 1998. Neos Cosmos has also recorded a 99 percent rise, with all these areas enjoying high demand by immigrants and students. Also high are rises on Alexandras Avenue (71 percent), in Ambelokipi (89 percent), Dafni (91 percent) and Metaxourgeio (81 percent). The latter could have even better prospects if its facelift project proceeds. More limited but still robust is the increase in property prices in Peristeri, where Line 2 of the metro is to be extended. Estate agents in this populous suburb have recorded a price rise reaching 30 percent after the Aghios Antonios station opened, with two more stations planned in the area. Experience, however, suggests that the biggest rises come during each project’s construction phase, as expectations tend to exceed the actual potential of the infrastructure project, although the metro has shown it can have a long-term effect on real estate prices. Commercial property The metro has also had a positive impact on the commercial property market. It has mainly affected stores by raising leasing rates and, to a lesser extent, sale prices. Dimitris Manousakis, head of the Savills property consultancy, says the metro has mainly boosted local markets as it has facilitated access by consumers from neighboring areas. «The influx of new visitors has attracted the interest of commercial chains of national stature, leading to a rise in leasings and limiting of the local character of certain areas,» says Manousakis. He cites the example of Panormou metro station. «This is a typical case as commercial development in the area around it was completed in record time. Generally, the trend created has pushed up store rentals close to metro stations by 20 to 25 percent,» the Savills head said.