ECONOMY

Proposals to prop up building sector

The government is looking over a series of proposals aimed at boosting trading activity in the construction and real estate sectors, such as subsidizing mortgage rates, according to industry sources. The number of transactions taking place in the industry fell sharply as of summer last year in a development that also took a large bite out of government revenues. Industry groups recently submitted a 14-point plan to the Economy and Finance Ministry on how to restore demand while easing supply pressures. Among the proposals put forth is the government subsidizing interest rates for a period of 10 years for first-home buyers if it exceeds the 5 percent mark. Another proposal involves cutting down on the paperwork required for non-European Union citizens interested in buying a property in non-urban areas. Sales of holidays homes this summer are expected to dive unless incentives are offered to potential buyers, said one industry source. Housing prices have proven resilient, falling by just 5 to 10 percent in some areas, despite the sharp drop in demand and mortgage lending rates. The year got off to a poor start for Greece’s construction sector, with the number of new building permits in January falling sharply. Data show that construction activity in January fell 22.5 percent year-on-year to 3,835 new permits.