New and small flats sell

Potential homebuyers in Greece are limiting their demands after the considerable rise in prices in 2005. Virtually all potential buyers seek a newly built house up to 80 square meters, or up to 120 sq.m. at the most, according to a recent survey of 17,846 households conducted by Aspis Real Estate through its network of agencies in Attica. «There is a clear swing toward more feasible solutions as far as the requirements of the buying public are concerned,» says Miltiades Epithymiadis, CEO at Aspis Real Estate. He adds that the houses targeted should not exceed 200,000 euros, or in exceptional cases 300,000 euros. «If five years ago the dream of the average Greek was a maisonette in the northern or the southern suburbs [of Athens], they have now adjusted their desires to within limited reach due to the significant increase in prices, especially last year,» Epithymiadis notes. Market stays strong What is even more important is that the new government measures on real estate (the imposition of value-added tax, adjustment of official values used for tax purposes and the gradual abolition of transfer tax) have not greatly interrupted the property market’s momentum. The survey has found that more than eight in 10 households interested in buying a house would opt for a newly built one, a percentage that in Attica stands at 81 percent. Although Greeks are limiting their requirements as far as area is concerned, they would prefer their new home to be freshly constructed rather than older which would come at a lower price and probably more area. Furthermore, nine in 10 (91 percent) are orientated toward flats only. More specifically, 53 percent would choose flats up to 80 sq.m., 37 percent would go for 80-120 sq.m. and only 10 percent say they prefer maisonettes, detached houses or apartments over 120 sq.m. In terms of cost, 66 percent will not invest more than 200,000 euros and another 25 percent would pay up to 300,000 euros. North is popular Naturally the highest demand for bigger and more expansive houses is to be found in the northern and eastern suburbs of Athens, while the western suburbs have greater demand for smaller and cheaper flats. Of the 17,846 households polled, 5,427, or 30 percent, expressed their preference for the northern suburbs. The southern suburbs followed with 3,853 «votes,» the western suburbs were just ahead of the city center with 3,155 and 3,147 preferences respectively, and the eastern suburbs attracted the preference of 2,264 households. The northern suburbs data are quite indicative: Although it is no different from the rest of Attica in terms of building age and the type of house (newly built houses), there are certain differences in the amount that interested households are prepared to spend. Those who can spend from 200,000 to 300,000 euros amount to 33 percent, against an average of 25 percent for the whole of the capital. The same is evident in the size preferred, as only 43 percent looking to buy in the northern suburbs would choose houses up to 80 sq.m. against an average of 53 percent in Attica. Consequently 42 percent searching in the northern suburbs want a house between 80 and 120 sq.m. while even larger houses are preferred by 15 percent of respondents there. The southern suburbs have demand almost exclusively for flats (97 percent). This is attributed to the smaller supply of maisonettes there than in the northern suburbs, where areas such as Ekali, Drosia, Dionysos and Pendeli offer a great number of newly built maisonettes. Similar differentiation exists in the amount potential homebuyers are prepared to pay, as 72 percent of those in the southern suburbs responded that they would not spend more than 200,000 euros, against 66 percent in the whole of Athens and just 51 percent in its northern suburbs. Since areas like Glyfada, Voula and parts of Palaio Faliron are too expensive to have many sizable houses at such low prices, demand for flats up to 80 sq.m. has surged to 59 percent. Finally, central Athens lacks newly built houses, taking the demand for older houses to 24 percent against an average of 19 percent in all the capital. Similarly the portion of people wishing to spend no more than 200,000 euros comes to 81 percent in Athens’s center.