EXCLUSIVE: Chinese interest in Greek property up 67 pct in May

  • Chinese enquiries in Greek real estate consistent with last year's demand

  • Rebound in Greek Golden Visas expected in Q4

  • Existing travel restrictions from China holding back deals

Interest from Chinese buyers in Greek real estate rebounded strongly in May with a surge in Golden Visa applications likely to take place in the last quarter of the year, said Juwai IQI Executive Chairman Georg Chmiel.

The news comes amidst growing concerns in Greece that a drop off in demand from Chinese investors due to the pandemic will weigh heavily on the real estate market where domestic demand remains weak due to high levels of uncertainty in the economy.

In an interview with GreekGuru.net, Chmiel said that interest in Greece from Chinese investors on Shanghai-based property platform Juwai.com is proving to be resilient due to stronger ties between the two countries and the appeal of the country's Golden Visa program.

“Greece’s pro-China and pro-investment orientation is an important element in attracting Chinese residential real estate investment. Chinese consumers feel that the good relations between the two countries and participation in the Belt and Road Initiative are reassuring for long-term investment and residency," he said.

Chinese buyers have been driving demand for Greece's Golden visa program, which saw record growth rates in 2019. Favorable terms for the residency-for-investment scheme, along with low real estate prices brought about by the country's ten-year economic crisis are seen sustaining interest in Greek assets from investors in the Asian nation.

Last month, buyer inquiries for Greek homes on Juwai.com jumped 67 percent over April but was down by 26 percent compared to May a year earlier.

"Demand isn’t yet back into full swing and it’s still hard to close a transaction from overseas, but Chinese buyers are making inquiries each month consistent with performance over the past 12 months," said Chmiel.

As national economies around the world exit lockdown mode and push for a return to normal, many real estate markets are recovering but at slow pace as the number of deals being completed remain low. High net worth Chinese nationals have been reportedly picking up where they left off before the pandemic hit, choosing luxury properties in nearby countries, such as Singapore and Australia.

In Greece, Chinese buyers have been showing a preference for apartments in central Athens, close to the Acropolis, and beachside districts , such as Glyfada and Palaio Faliro. On the islands, they often target luxury villas in Mykonos, Santorini and Crete.

“There is still a large market for Greek Golden Visas among well-off families in China. The value offered by the Greek investment visa could shift demand to Greece from less expensive programs in the Pacific and the Caribbean," said Chmiel.

With travel restrictions on Chinese travelling to Athens still in place and the Greek Immigration Bureau having been closed for part of the year due to the pandemic, Chmiel said, there has been a slowdown in the number of visa application approved this year but demand has not dropped off.

"We expect a surge in applications and approvals when current Coronavirus-related restrictions expire, probably by the fourth quarter," Chmiel added.