Property prices dip 2.9 percent

Athens property prices in the first half of the year fell by an average annual pace of 2.9 percent, according to the Bank of Greece. The central bank said yesterday property market prices so far this year have shown resilience to the downturn, outperforming the sharp corrections seen in other countries, such as Ireland, Spain and the United Kingdom. Demand for housing has slumped in Greece as the economy grinds to a halt and consumers cut spending on both non-durables and durables – such as cars and housing – scared off by deteriorating labor market conditions. The slump in demand for residential property that began early last year has prompted a flood of new homes to come onto the market but prices have dropped only slightly. The estimated number of unsold homes in Athens stood at 200,000 at the start of the year, according to some estimates. Nearly all real estate agents questioned by the Bank of Greece said they expected prices to remain steady until the end of 2009.