Another, even stronger shift to eastern Attica is expected

In the 1960s, leaving a house with a courtyard to buy an apartment in a newly built block was synonymous with social elevation and acceptance that marked the end of an era. Hundreds of thousands of Greeks got their apartments, but as time went by they felt suffocated, hostage to chaotic development and the lack of open spaces and greenery. Now, more than 40 years later, ideals and desires are running in the opposite direction. These days, according to a recent poll, the Greek dream is a house in the outer suburbs. But the explosion of land prices and the population in the late 1990s reduced the number of those who could fulfill that desire, and hopes fueled by the stock market boom proved temporary. At the same time, the steep fall in interest rates due to EMU convergence and the arrival of economic migrants altered the picture. Low interest rates made loans cheaper and migrants boosted demand for existing dwellings, giving many Greeks an opportunity to purchase newly built homes. Growing demand inevitably made prices shoot up, and they in turn squeezed requirements. A room would be sacrificed for a new car, estate agents say, and 130-140 square meter homes became 100-110 sq.m. Meanwhile, improvements – mainly in road infrastructure – created new areas, mostly in eastern Attica, changing the residential map and satisfying the need for larger, cheaper dwellings. Areas such as Pallini, Paeania, Koropi, Stavros and Gerakas saw their population and building activity soar. There are signs that the trend toward the Mesogeia plain is abating, as prices are still high for an area that lacks social infrastructure such as hospitals, tuition colleges, cinemas and theaters, but estate agents say that commercial demand along Attiki Odos and around the airport has begun to grow and will soon start a second shift to Mesogeia that will be much greater than the first and will increase values. Another feature of the housing market is the return to the center. Pedestrianized Apostolou Pavlou Street at the foot of the Acropolis is now one of the three most expensive locations in Athens, while demand and prices are rising in refurbished Koukaki, Mets and Ano Petralona. The most expensive neighborhoods (Kolonaki, Lycabettus, and the vicinity of the Presidential Palace) retain their value along with their character and clientele. The center offers a wide variety of housing and many small apartments. The metro, improved roads and the convergence of prices in so-called expensive and cheap areas have made demand more uniform. A large estate agency says areas in demand are those close to the center such as Galatsi and Ano Patissia (Kypriadou), new buildings in Lambrini, around the park in Nea Philadelphia, Maroussi, Nea Filothei, Vrilissia, Melissia, Holargos, Halandri, Papagou, Zografou, Vyronas, Ilissia and Argyroupoli. Many potential buyers from different social and economic backgrounds want specific features rather than specific locations, with the emphasis on greenery, open space and affordable prices. For many buyers, the distance from work and price per square meter are the basic criteria.