ECONOMY

Deals for the not-so-rich

At a time when the real estate market is in turmoil and many buyers are panicking because of taxation changes and rising prices, an oasis for investors may lie in small or rural flats and parking spaces. People who cannot invest a lot of money often buy basement flats in central Athens, small flats in the Greek countryside or parking spaces. This property usually guarantees high return. The best and most secure option for those who can invest between 30,000 and 60,000 euros is the purchase of a studio in Athens’s city center. Studios come as a single room for all purposes and range between 25 and 36 square meters, or at 50 sq.m. with a kitchenette. Studios have gone up in demand over the last five years. Despite the massive increase in demand, contractors build few new studios, which are scattered in the city’s suburbs. This trend seems to be changing now, as more and more developers choose to add studios to new buildings. Virtually all those flats are in the center of Athens and the surrounding neighborhoods. These areas include Patissia, Ambelokipi, Zografou, Gyzi, Pangrati, the area around the Hilton hotel, Kypseli, Kallithea and Ilissia. These are points well served by public transport, while wherever there is a metro station, as in Ambelokipi and the Hilton area, rents are particularly high, increasing returns. Property management consultants suggest returns range between 6 and 8 percent, unlike normal flats whose returns do not exceed 5 percent. In ideal cases returns can even go over 8 percent, provided a studio has amenities such as access to public transport, location on an upper floor, high-quality construction and proximity to universities. Park your money Parking lots also offer good returns. Buying such space costs between 15,000 and 50,000 euros, and the annual returns range between 8 and 12 percent. It is, however, hard to find spaces available for sale, but good market research can net some good opportunities, as in areas like Ambelokipi, Kypseli, Gyzi and Kolonaki. For a parking slot in the latter, an investor will need to pay between 35,000 and 50,000 euros, while in the other three areas the cost is between 14,650 and 20,550 euros. In Kolonaki the monthly rental starts from 200 euros and could reach 260 euros. In the other three neighborhoods it ranges from 130 to 180 euros. A discerning buyer can spot good openings for parking spaces. Slots open up when flats that are between seven and 10 years old are sold and the owner happens to own two parking spaces. In other cases, the slot is sold as part of the flat’s package. Potential investors can look for opportunities in new buildings with more slots. An alternative investment option is basement flats or old shops which can easily be used as warehouses for small and medium-sized enterprises. Returns there range from 8 to 10 percent. A less common choice is turning a building into a garage, for which an official change of use is required. In this case the candidate buyer must note whether the regulations of the block of flats forbid such a change. Properties ideal for that can be found in Kypseli and Pangrati at prices from 150 to 440 euros per sq.m. from a minimum of 20 sq.m. An even more aggressive option is the purchase of a flat in cities outside the capital or Thessaloniki, particularly in northern Greece. Komotini, Patras, Ioannina and Alexandroupolis are ideal choices, given their high demand for housing and the low supply. All these cities have universities, so demand for housing, especially small flats, is high. But the cities are also far away, so managing the properties is harder.