ECONOMY

Saronic islands lure home hunters

As the Attica coastline turns into a main residence zone, holiday house buyers increasingly opt for the islands of the Saronic Gulf. The short distance from Piraeus renders the islands of Aegina, Spetses and Hydra particularly attractive as they can be visited for short breaks throughout the year. Nevertheless, the bonus of relatively easy access is offset by the high prices of ready constructions and of land. Aegina Throughout Aegina there is intensive construction activity except for Aegina town itself, where it is virtually impossible to find a house on sale or a free plot. The peak of demand is at Perdika, where several luxury holiday home complexes are being developed, as well as at Marathonas, Sfentouri and Aeginitissa. The sale rates of newly built houses, all of which have the infrastructure for winter, start from 2,000 euros per square meter, with the distance from the shore being the main factor determining the rate of every square meter, as in all seaside resorts. The top rate of 3,300 euros/sq.m. is the highest and concerns only a few and very special cases of houses. Local estate agents suggest that the areas of the island that are opposite Piraeus, i.e. Souvala, Vaya, Aghii and Vathi, are much more economical, with rates ranging between 1,300 and 1,800 euros/sq.m. For older houses in Aegina prices are shaped mainly by the requirements of owners and the potential of candidate buyers. The rate range is very broad, but contracts are usually made around 800 and 1,250 euros/sq.m., with agents noting that such levels are no more than indicative. Spetses This is the most remote, yet one of the most picturesque islands in the region. The preference shown to Spetses by select members of the country’s jet set, artists and others has maintained demand at steadily high levels with a direct effect on prices. For instance, a detached house with a view of the sea can cost as much as 3,500 euros/sq.m. Demand is high at Palaio Limani, which is outstandingly picturesque and attracts most of the island’s nightlife. Many also choose the areas of Aghia Marina and Aghios Fanourios. However, due to the minimal supply of houses, many buyers try to purchase themselves a plot to build on. In Spetses, house sale rates range between 2,500 and 3,500 euros/sq.m., while the few plots within town planning come at 500-600 euros/sq.m. The cost of construction is higher in Spetses, as are labor costs and material costs. Goods are carried by sea and the ban on cars means more traditional transportation is used, extending construction time. Hydra Many people say Hydra is the most cosmopolitan island of the Saronic region. Its beauty and short distance by ferry have boosted demand for houses, with buying interest focusing on the town, particularly on houses closer to the port. Due to the lack of free plots, most prospective buyers turn to the parts of the island at a higher elevation. Demand also centers on Vlychos, Kaminia and Mandraki. For a newly built house, out of the few supplied by construction companies, one may need to spend as much as 4,000 euros/sq.m., depending on the spot and the view. An alternative non-Greeks favor is buying an old detached house for renovation. Houses costing 150,000 euros are seen as bargains, but often need as much renovation money to be made inhabitable. In Hydra there are many architectural limitations. The island is considered a traditional zone, so special approval is required to mend old houses and wooden windows are compulsory.