Home auctions look likely to resume

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras confirmed Friday that the government is examining ending a moratorium on the auctioning of repossessed homes despite strong objections from MPs and consumer groups.

“We are studying the issue and want to be as sensitive as possible to people who cannot pay and should not be chased by banks,” he told Mega TV. “Those who are bad payers should pay, though.”

Stournaras said that the final decision would be taken by the Development Ministry. Auctions of main residences have been suspended in Greece since 2009. It is thought that the sale of some 200,000 homes has been prevented so far.

However, Greece is under pressure from the troika to lift the measure, which is thought to be negatively affecting the property market and is due to expire at the end of the year.

New Democracy and PASOK MPs have already reacted negatively to reports that the two-party government is considering allowing property auctions to take place normally from next year. The consumer group INKA has also written to lawmakers asking them to stand in the way of this measure, which it said would cause a “social explosion.”

In the interview with Mega, Stournaras pledged that the unpopular emergency property tax, levied through electricity bills, would not remain in its current form next year and would be incorporated into a single tax on property.

He said the details of the new property levy would be submitted to Parliament next month.