ECONOMY

Soft start to 2009 for house prices

Residential property sale prices in Attica dipped by an average of between 3 to 6 percent in the first four months of the year, after a 10 percent retreat in 2008, according to a report made public yesterday. Brokerage Aspis Real Estate said in a report that despite problems arising from the global crisis, «the housing market in Attica has not shown any signs of sudden price drops.» In the first four months of the year Aspis was involved in 359 property transactions via its 48-branch network across Greece, versus 448 in the same period last year. The company said there has been a significant improvement in market conditions in the last two months due to increased lending from banks, falling interest rates and recent government measures to support the market. «It is clear the market moves at many different speeds depending on the area, age of the property, its characteristics and the position each seller is in,» said Aspis Real Estate’s managing director Miltiadis Epithimiadis in a statement. In April, the Economy and Finance Ministry announced measures aimed at boosting investment and protecting jobs in the construction industry, including subsidizing mortgages and increasing tax benefits. Greece’s construction sector accounts for about 7 percent of the country’s annual economic output and employs some 400,000 people.