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Economy

Foreign Buyers Now Taking Over from Greeks in Buying Up Properties

ATHENS – The Golden Visa rush by foreign investors, who seek residency permits and valuable European Union passports, continues as they snap up properties that many Greeks cannot afford.

Demand from domestic buyers is dwindling for properties whose prices are rising due to demand and a dwindling supply—many units having already been turned into short-term rentals on platforms such as Airbnb, further profiting investors.

The site Spitogatos.gr, which displays properties for rent and sale in Greece, has found that interest from foreigners is growing, even though the New Democracy government has raised the investment threshold from €250,000 ($271,173) to as high as €800,000 ($867,745) in the most popular areas, including neighborhoods in Athens.

Analysts noted that demand for buying residences by Greeks in the first quarter of 2024 shrank by 4.2%, but rose by 11.8% from foreign buyers, as reported by Kathimerini, also driven by higher prices out of reach for many.

There was a 5% increase in international buyers’ interest in 2023 compared to the previous year, and the site mentioned that most of that interest is centered on properties in Athens, the tourist-rich Halkidiki peninsula, and southern seaside areas of the capital.

This is particularly true along a stretch of the so-called Athens Riviera, where businesses and resorts have largely cut off public access to beaches while offering properties to the wealthy, and where the €8 billion ($8.68 billion) development of the abandoned Ellenikon international airport is underway, especially luxury units.

“Real estate prices in Greece remain lower compared to many countries abroad, which acts as a magnet for foreigners who are not only looking to secure returns but also wish to relocate to a popular tourist destination. At the same time, the goal of securing visas has dramatically strengthened the demand from Americans and Britons,” Kosmas Theodoridis, President of the European Real Estate Brokers Association, told the paper.

Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras said in a recent report that foreign buyer demand will remain high, while “prices are estimated to continue their upward trend in the high-end segment of the market, dragging prices along in secondary markets.”

Spitogatos research also showed that buyers focusing on the center of Athens are more interested in apartments, detached houses, and studios, while in the southern suburbs, the interest is more for detached houses, maisonettes, and apartments.

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