Home owners run from Airbnb, but economic woes in Greece may not be as bad as first thought

A large number of homeowners in Greece have switched strategies due to the turmoil brought on by the coronavirus though some views are emerging that the county's economic plunge may not be as severe as initially estimated.

Data put together by home classifieds site spitogatos.gr shows a sharp rise in the number of homes put up for rent, the majority of which are furnished or renovated. In the central Athens neighborhood of Petralona, close to the Acropolis, homes for rent jumped by 44.4 percent in the last 30 days, while the increase in Neos Kosmos reached 43.60 percent.

Both of these areas saw real estate prices rise sharply in recent years, due to the strong tourism sector and demand for short term rentals as little, or nothing, had been done to improve the infrastructure of these districts.

In the portside area of Piraeus, where there is a growing network of public transport and improving public beachside spaces, the number of homes put up for rent jumped 27 percent, data shows. Figures in other parts of Greece were mixed while in Chania (Crete) there was an increase of 2.8 percent and 6.1 percent in the Cycladic islands.

There is still little evidence to determine the depth and duration of the country's downturn (as is the case in most countries) though some estimates see Greece's economic output plummetting by as much as 10 percent this year. High exposure to tourism and a fragile banking system, weakened by a ten year crisis, are seen as being the country's weak points.

Think tank IOBE forecasts a contraction of between 5 percent and 9 percent for 2020, while the International Monetary Fund sees a drop of 10 percent and unemployment soaring to 22 percent (from about 16 percent currently).

Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras is not so pessimistic. Stournaras, the former head of IOBE, rejects the think tank's views, saying that he doesn't believe the contraction will be more than 4 percent.

“I continue to believe that scenarios of minus 10 percent, or more, are very extreme and will not be realized,” he said earlier this week.


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