Residential property sale prices in Attica fell at an annual rate of between 5 to 10 percent in the first half of the year, according to Aspis Real Estate, which predicted an increase in demand in the second half of 2009. The report said sale prices in the western suburbs faired the best, falling only 4.75 percent, while the drop recorded in the southern suburbs hit 8 percent. The price slide in the broader central area of the capital hit 10 percent. «The ongoing moderate drop in sale prices in Attica has been to the benefit of fully aware buyers,» said Aspis Real Estate’s managing director Miltiadis Epithimiades. «Those who know what they want and are in a position to obtain finance for their acquisitions, are taking advantage of the current situation and are securing better prices.» Turning to the remainder of the year, the report said a recently passed law that allows homeowners to pay a tax to exempt illegally constructed sections of their homes from penalties will stoke demand. «It is estimated that the law will cause an increase in demand in the second half, as the stock of unsold homes will not have any ‘outstanding’ town-planning issues – a fact that makes getting finance easier,» the report said. New buildings will now be constructed under stricter conditions which will also result in higher costs, it added. Last month, lawmakers approved a draft law enabling property owners to virtually legalize covered areas that had originally been designated as balconies in a move the government hopes will put more than 2 billion euros in state coffers.