ECONOMY

Thessaloniki housing market set to boom

A major construction wave is expected in Thessaloniki in the coming years, as the city’s Estate Agents’ Association expects new houses to increase by up to 200,000 in the next six to eight years. «The Thessaloniki property market is particularly dynamic,» said the association’s president, Nikos Manomenidis, noting that interest is moving from the housing market to investment properties with good returns. He added that the market is anticipating the reactivation of loans to overseas Greeks resettling in the country, while loans to Roma have already been reactivated. «These are 15,000 loans in a market with an annual rate of 25,000 house transactions,» said Manomenidis. Bulgarians and Romanians are showing particular interest, he stressed, as after their countries’ entry to the European Union they want to acquire a holiday home or invest in tourism properties. These developments are forecast for the Thessaloniki property market just as it is trying to settle following the changes in property taxation in January 2006. Rushed purchases that would normally have taken place in the 2006-2007 period created a surplus of about 30 percent, amounting to 10,000-15,000 houses. «The market is now being restructured. Buyers do not have to acquire a house at its foundation stage,» said Manomenidis. Average rates per square meter range from -1,560 in Evosmos and Ilioupolis to -2,660 in the city center, with Kalamaria (2,650 euros/sq.m.) and Triandria (2,515 euros/sq.m.) among the most expensive areas of Thessaloniki. MLS and rationalization As the agents’ association wants to combat the market’s anarchy and lack of transparency, it has adopted the Multiple Listing System for properties (MLS) for the first time in Europe. This will weaken the hold of illegal agencies, which currently account for more than 50 percent of agent activity, while limiting additional commissions on top of property prices. For the MLS requires the submission of real property data, the actual sale price, and is constantly monitored. «The system sets some rules and therefore rationalizes the real estate market,» said Manomenidis, adding that it safeguards consumers as it gives them the chance to choose an accredited agent and be served by a «one-stop shop,» since properties recorded will be accessible by all agencies associated with the network. There are now 260 estate agencies participating in the MLS, which will become fully operational from September.