The Athens prooerty market is undergoing a revival on the back of growing investor demand. According to the Bank of Greece, the number of real estate transactions in the city grew by 18% in 2017, and by 1.5 times in the first four months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.
Demand for short-term properties being is buoyed by demand from tourists, so property investors that cater to this crowd have the potential for higher and constant returns. Greece is seeing a tourist boom – according to the Bank of Greece, the number of foreign tourists increased from 15 million in 2009 to 30 million in 2017, the bulk of whom visit Athens during their stay in the country, which, thanks to its well-preserved heritage and comfortable climate, remains popular regardless of the economic situation.
According to the estimates by Euromonitor International, Athens is the city with the second-fastest rate of growth in the number of tourists in Europe (the first is Heraklion). The number of international arrivals reached 4.8 million in 2017, 10% more than in 2016. According to the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), the average length of stay in Athens increased from 5.5 days in 2016 to 5.7 in 2017.
According to Airbnb data portal AirDNA, the number of bookings in Athens on the homesharing platform has been increasing by 66% per year since 2010, compared to Paris (30%), Berlin (40%) and Barcelona (40%). The most popular areas for tourist bookings are the city’s central districts: Keramik, Koukaki, Makrygianni, Metaxourgeio, Monastiraki, Plaka and Tisio.
According to Greek media outlet Ekathimerini, flats within the boundary of the area between the central squares of Monastiraki, Omonia and Syntagma are almost unavailable for locals as they are usually rented out to tourists.
Demand from foreign investors is being fuelled by cheap so-called golden visas: a Greek residence permit can be obtained by purchasing one or more properties for a minimum total of €250,000. The minimum sum in other markets offering golden visas is higher: in Spain, golden visa investments start from €500,000, while in Portugal it is €350,000, and in Latvia, an obligatory fee raises the threshold to €262,700.
The popularity of the Greek golden visas is growing. According to Enterprise Greece, the country issued 30% more visas to main applicants in 2017 than in 2016. From the launch of the programme in 2013 until 2017, Greek residence permits were issued to 2,305 investors, most of them from China (including their family members, Chinese nationals account for almost half residence permits issued), Russia, Turkey and Egypt.