Greeks increasingly see real estate as a safer investment than currencies or commodities, and ‘people are buying like there’s no tomorrow.’
A Stone Mansion Overlooking the Aegean Sea From Tinos
$1.8 MILLION (1.6 MILLION EUROS)
This five-bedroom property sits on a hillside in Ktikados, a village near the southern coast of the Greek island of Tinos, in the Aegean Sea. Built in 2006 of local stone, the property has a main house with two bedrooms, plus two small guesthouses separated by a garden with olive and fruit trees, on just under half an acre.
Tinos, about 75 square miles in size, is bigger but much quieter than neighboring Mykonos, the popular tourist destination known for its party atmosphere, said George Kasimis, the head of Aegean sales at Greece Sotheby’s International Realty, which has the listing.
“Tinos is one of my favorite islands,” he said. “The whole island has a sophistication that’s developed over the years around culture and religion.”
Most homes on the island are owned by Greeks, and the architecture tends to reflect its long tradition of stone craftsmanship, he said.
This home’s main entrance opens into a spacious foyer with double-height ceilings. An archway to the right frames the dining area, which has a lounging nook at one end. The living room is a few steps down to the left. The walls, all exposed stone, are lined with arched windows. The floors are ceramic tile.
A large contemporary kitchen with sleek gray cabinetry is off the dining room. An adjoining prep kitchen has a pantry and a bedroom for staff above.
A wide wooden staircase in the foyer leads to an open mezzanine, currently set up as an office. The two upper-level bedrooms each have an en suite bath, a large private balcony and sea views to the south.
A small corridor next to the kitchen leads to a stone grotto covering a portion of the outdoor swimming pool. An opening in the grotto allows access to the rest of the pool, which is surrounded by stone arcades that provide shade from the sun. The pool area has a shower, a built-in barbecue and a traditional stone oven.
Behind the main house is a smaller two-story building with a sitting room, kitchenette, bedroom and bath on the ground floor, and a second bedroom and bath above. The garden area is behind this house, and at the far end is a barbecue/dining area and the second guesthouse, this one with a single bedroom and bath.
The property has a one-car garage and three outdoor parking spaces.
The village of Ktikados has two authentic Greek taverns and some small markets, Mr. Kasimis said. Other necessities can be found in the town of Tinos, about a 15-minute drive. Mykonos Airport, the closest international airport, is accessible via a ferry ride from Tinos that takes 20 to 30 minutes.
Tinos island, with fewer than 10,000 residents, is a pilgrimage site for the religious faithful visiting the Holy Church of Panagia Evangelistria, a 19th-century Greek Orthodox Church built in honor of the Virgin Mary. It was one of the first large structures built by the government after Greece declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire.
“People crawl from the port to the church, if they are very religious, and there they light a candle as high as their height,” Mr. Kasimis said. “It’s a very important site for Tinos.”
After 10 years of deep recession and staggering debt, Greece is now rapidly recovering, with both the economy and real estate market showing signs of renewed strength.
“All the macroeconomic figures are getting better and better,” said Antonis Markopoulos, co-founder and chief executive of Prosperty, a real estate start-up that uses a digital platform designed to make transactions faster and more transparent. “And after not spending during the pandemic lockdown, people are seeking to put their money into a safe investment like real estate.”
Mr. Kasimis said 2021 was the best year yet for Greece Sotheby’s, which has been operating since 2016. “We made four or five times more sales in 2020 than 2019, and this year is even better,” he said. “People are buying like there’s no tomorrow.”
The pandemic lockdown created positive momentum in the market, as people began looking to real estate as a safer investment than currencies or commodities, agents said. Mr. Markopoulos said that apartments in the center of Athens, Greece’s capital and financial center, are in particularly high demand among local buyers, as well as from international investors.
“There is massive demand for short-term rentals, so the yield investors can get is extremely high,” he said.
Depending on the neighborhood, apartment prices in the city center range from 1,500 to 3,500 euros a square meter ($158 to $368 a square foot), he said.
The suburbs to the south of the capital are also drawing considerable interest from international buyers, in part because of a massive resort development planned for the site of the former Ellinikon International Airport, he said.
The strengthening demand for housing is reflected in rising prices. As of the third quarter of this year, apartment prices countrywide were up 7.9 percent over last year, according to data from the Bank of Greece. In Athens, prices were up 9.8 percent.
Wealthy Greeks who have lately prospered from the shipping industry are helping to move the high end of the market, said Yannis Ploumis, the general manager of Ploumis Sotiropoulos Real Estate, an affiliate of Christie’s International. Sales have been strong on the islands of Mykonos and Porto Heli, where his agency sold a $27 million estate last month, among the highest prices ever recorded there.
On Tinos, which also has a large Catholic community, “the strong religious aspect has prevented the island from becoming a party island,” Mr. Kasimis said. While sellers are mainly Greek, buyers these days are largely foreign, and the island is becoming “a quiet suburb of Mykonos,” he said.
The U.S. Department of State has issued a travel advisory warning against travel to Greece because of a recent surge in Covid levels. Travelers to Greece must show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test upon arrival. Proof of vaccination is also required for entry to most businesses and public services.
Who Buys in Greece
Greece has long been popular with foreign buyers, most of whom come from within the European Union, agents said.
But Mr. Ploumis said his agency is also working with buyers from the Middle East, Turkey, Britain and the United States.
There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in Greece, aside from certain border areas where government approval is required, Mr. Ploumis said.
Residency permits are available to buyers from outside the European Union through the government’s Golden Visa program, which requires an investment of at least 250,000 euros ($283,000) in a property. The permit may be renewed every five years for as long as the buyers own the property. Permits are also available to foreigners who make a minimum 400,000 euro ($452,000) financial investment in Greece.
So far this year, the government has issued more than 9,300 residence permits, up from 8,575 last year, with most of those going to investors from China, Turkey and Russia, according to Enterprise Greece, the country’s official trade promotion agency.
Buyers should always hire a lawyer to perform proper due diligence, Mr. Ploumis said.
Languages and Currency
Greek; euro (1 euro = $1.13)
Taxes and Fees
Buyers pay a transfer tax of 3 percent of the purchase price. Legal fees are around 1 percent, and notary fees are about 0.25 percent, Mr. Ploumis said.
The agent’s commission is split between buyer and seller, with each typically paying 2 percent of the sale price, he said.
The annual property taxes on this home are less than $1,000, Mr. Kasimis said.
George Kasimis, Greece Sotheby’s International Realty, 011-30-6973-555-350; sothebysrealty.gr