OPINION

Homeownership declining in Greece

Homeownership in Greece over the past two years has declined from 85 to 80 percent of the population, an unprecedented trend, given that there had been a steady increase over the past 30 years. So the issue is justifiably causing concern among the authorities who are examining the various factors that may have led to this decline. Despite the continuing increase in the number of housing loans being granted and construction licenses issued, it is now clear that the excessive and completely unjustified increase in the price of property has begun to have repercussions. The general rule that «rent is about the same as the monthly installment on a housing loan» no longer applies. Young adults and newlyweds are unable to buy their own homes and resort to rentals for a number of years since high property prices are prohibitive, even for those whose parents want to help them out. Moreover, a further decline in job prospects on farms has prompted many young people to leave their villages for larger towns where, naturally, they do not have their own homes and are forced to rent. Perhaps the current statistics include immigrants who are only now, after receiving legal status, being registered as tenants. Yet even that by no means diminishes the social dimensions of a problem that calls for immediate action. The high percentage of Greeks who owned their own homes was for decades one of the few prosperity indicators of which Greece could be proud. Today, much is changing in our society. The government should not let this need become the victim of the greed on the part of those who would profit from Greeks’ dream of homeownership, particularly young people.