Lower returns on property

Investing in real estate is still regarded as a profitable and safe investment, a conviction shared by the majority of public opinion, as shown by various surveys and polls published in recent years. This confidence is confirmed by a recent study conducted by the Statistics Faculty of Athens Economic University, headed by professor Epaminondas Pannas. The study was presented during a recent two-day meeting organized by Helexpo. It shows that investing in real estate is suitable for people targeting long-term returns rather than quick profits, as major price increases in recent years leave little room for further growth. Real estate is still considered to be a safe haven for investors against inflation. The study showed that investing in real estate is an excellent defense against inflation for investors. The difference between the consumer price index (CPI) and residential property prices in the period 2004-2007 was estimated to be around 21 percent in the southern suburbs of the capital. According to Pannas, «an investment valued at -100 in 2004 in a property located in Athens’s southern suburbs, returned -130 in 2007. The average sale price per square meter in the southern suburbs stood at -2,733 in October, up 4.11 percent year-on-year. Returns per type of property (based on floor area) are not especially high. Small apartments of up to 50 sq.m. have a return of up to 4.0 percent, while flats up to 80 sq.m. return 3.39 percent. Larger residencies from 121 sq.m. to 200 sq.m. cost -450,000 to buy, and their return stands at 2.93 percent, calculated on an average monthly rent of -1,100. In east Attica, the difference between the inflation rate increase and the price of residences, during the period under review, gives a return of 18 percent. Compared to 2004, the CPI increased by 9.0 points, while the property price index rose by 27 points. However, in the past 12 months, the average sale price for previously lived-in homes in east Attica rose a mere 1.46 percent, at -2,149 per square meter. With regard to central Athens (essentially Athens Municipality), the 2004-2007 return against the inflation rate stood at 17 percent, with the property price index rising 26 points. Nevertheless, returns in central Athens locations are higher than in other areas, with small apartments (50 sq.m.) returning 5.55 percent. Apartments of up to 80 sq.m. return 4.40 percent, while those up to 200 sq.m. return 4.89 percent, according to the study. The average property sale price in central Athens in the past 12 months dropped 3.49 percent, at -1,823 per sq.m. In the northern suburbs, the average sale price of houses rose 2.26 percent, at -2,761 per sq.m.