Real estate shows signs of recovery; new Athens projects reshape demand

Residential property prices in Athens advanced at a solid pace in the first quarter of the year as a number of recently announced building and infrastructure projects set to take place in the Greek capital reshape market demand.

Bank of Greece data shows that first-quarter residential property prices in Athens gained 5.4 percent on an annual basis, versus 5.6 percent in the previous three month period. It is the smallest drop seen in several quarters, indicating that the market may have bottomed out.

At a national level, housing prices advanced 3.2 percent in the January to March period, picking up from a rate of 2.5 percent previously, Bank of Greece added.

The data indicates that the broader real estate sector is recovering from the pandemic and the recession it caused after property transactions came to a standstill amidst uncertainty faced by economies in Greece and Europe.

Although mortgage lending from the country’s banks remains very tight, there has been a spike in buying interest for apartments, according to agents, helped by steps taken by the conservative government to boost investments and jobs in housing.

Apart from moves, such as putting more procedures online to reduce time and costs in transferring property, a series of new building and infrastructure projects are prompting a rethink among investors looking for future hot spots.

None of the projects are seen as having an immediate impact on prices but market experts expect them to drive demand in the years to come.

Hellinikon project: The big one that has been promising everything for years but delivering nothing looks to be finally in the final stretch. Officials at Lamda Development, the company overseeing the eight-billion-euro urban scheme, say that the company will take control of the beachside site from the state in June, which means that from then on it is full steam ahead. After seven years of delays, waiting one more month doesn’t seem that bad.

Pirkal: Close to Hellinikon, at Imittos, the government has announced the transformation of the Pirkal plant, an abandoned former ammunitions manufacturing factory. This is the newest change in the Athens property map that foresees the creation of a ministry park, a site where nine new ministry buildings will be constructed, drawing private investment worth 250 million euros. It seems very ambitious and set to face strong resistance from locals but a potential game-changer for the area.

Metro Line 4: Since first operating in 2000, the city’s subway has been changing Athens. Now, plans for Line 4 (running from Alsos Veikou to Goudi) are expected to be approved by lawmakers in coming weeks and then passed on to construction companies. It will include 14 underground stations in a project that will exceed the 2 billion euro mark.