Greece is the word for hol­i­day home buy­ers

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - International -

The Bri­tish have al­ways loved Greece for its un­de­vel­oped is­lands, rus­tic vil­las and cat-filled restau­rants over­look­ing crys­tal­clear bays. Or as Dim­itrios Pa­padi­moulis, the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment vice-pres­i­dent, put it in his April state­ment on Brexit: “Greece and Bri­tain have a re­la­tion­ship. You’ve shared our his­tory, liked our sun and sand and en­joyed a cou­ple of drinks in our tav­er­nas.”

And so we con­tinue to book hol­i­days and buy homes across the Aegean, from sim­ple white­washed vil­lage houses to multi-mil­lion­pound con­tem­po­rary vil­las with Hock­ney-blue in­fin­ity pools. In the past cou­ple of years, Greece’s se­cu­rity has be­come a tick-box, too. “A lot of peo­ple who might have gone to Tur­key have come to buy in Greece,” says Spy­ros Mant­zos of es­tate agency A Prop­erty in Greece. “It seems a safer and friend­lier prospect. The Bri­tish, French and Bel­gians are our big­gest buy­ers.”

Tourism is hugely im­por­tant to the still-strug­gling Greek econ­omy – Elena Koun­toura, the tourism min­is­ter, says she ex­pects a record 30mil­lion tourists in 2017 – and Greek lo­cals con­tinue to make UK vis­i­tors feel wel­come. “I can as­sure you that Greeks will con­tinue to show their hos­pi­tal­ity to the Bri­tish as if they never left the Union,” Pa­padi­moulis added in his speech.

That’s lovely to hear, but where are we buy­ing? Ac­cess is key to the pop­u­lar­ity of the is­lands, and air routes are set to im­prove since the Ger­man com­pany Fra­port AG took over the run­ning of 14 re­gional Greek air­ports (as part of Greece’s bail-out deal with its EU cred­i­tors). Th­ese in­clude those of Crete (Cha­nia), Corfu, Rhodes, Mykonos, Zakyn­thos and San­torini.

“Op­er­a­tors are push­ing them hard for more year-round flights. Many ser­vices stop be­tween Novem­ber and March, de­spite the mild cli­mate of is­lands such as Crete,” says Mant­zos.

Crete is his big­gest mar­ket, with in­ter­est high­est around Cha­nia and the nearby Akrotiri penin­sula on the west side, and the town of Agios Niko­laos in the east. The typ­i­cal spend is around €150,000 (£139,400), which buys a mod­ern three-bed­room villa with a pool. “Peo­ple ei­ther buy re­sale prop­er­ties or [find a plot and build their own], which of­fers a VAT ad­van­tage over buy­ing a new home,” says Mant­zos. A high-end self build near Cha­nia or Elounda in Crete would cost around €750,000, he says.

He adds that prop­erty prices have fallen for 10 years, so it’s a good time to buy, and with low up­keep costs, rental yields can be good; 60 per cent of buy­ers rent out their prop­er­ties.

At the higher end of the mar­ket, the Io­nian is­lands are ever-pop­u­lar. In Zakyn­thos, or Zante, there’s a beach­front prop­erty close to the fash­ion­able Peligoni Club (beloved of the Home Coun­ties yacht­ing set) that has been re­duced from €5mil­lion to €3.8mil­lion, avail­able through Ayles­ford. It of­fers 10 bed­rooms with three more for staff, along with an in­fin­ity pool a few steps from the sea, and rents for €25,000 per week dur­ing high sum­mer.

An ab­sence of concrete and an easy lifestyle that feels like it’s un­changed in 30 years is what draws peo­ple to Zakyn­thos and Corfu, says An­drew Lang­ton, the chair­man of Ayles­ford In­ter­na­tional es­tate agency. “Corfu has sud­denly be­come a ma­jor at­trac­tion as nearby coun­tries have be­come off lim­its due to safety con­cerns,” he says. “But ev­ery­one wants a home within steps of the sea and they are as scarce as hens’ teeth as no one wants to sell.” On the chichi north-east coast of the is­land you might not find a water­front home, but A Prop­erty in Greece has two three-bed­room vil­las with panoramic sea views for €750,000 and €1mil­lion.

Su­per-fash­ion­able Mykonos is a favourite of he­do­nists and celebri­ties, with its de­signer shops and restau­rants such as Nam­mos, Nobu and Hakkasan. This is Greek is­land life at its most so­phis­ti­cated. The typ­i­cal bud­get for a home is €1.5mil­lion to €2mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Roi Deldimou of Beauchamp Es­tates. “You might get a small house on a lit­tle com­plex for €1mil­lion, but most peo­ple want large west-fac­ing houses in prime ar­eas within easy reach of Mykonos Town,” she says. “Prime ar­eas are Agios Lazaros, Agia Sofia, Tour­los and Houlakia.”

If you want the sugar cube-style prop­er­ties of Mykonos with­out the party scene, look to the qui­eter Ti­nos and Sy­ros. Beauchamp has a fivebed­room tra­di­tional coun­try es­tate on Sy­ros for €1mil­lion. You will have to reach it by ferry (or plane) from Athens but you’ll es­cape the tourist hordes.

Over in Rhodes, it’s a dif­fer­ent story again. The agency En­gel & Völk­ers re­ported a 57 per cent in­crease in de­mand from in­ter­na­tional buy­ers for prop­er­ties on Rhodes, es­pe­cially those from cen­tral Europe. In­ter­est has been fo­cused on Lin­dos, Pe­fkos and Vlicha on the east coast, with prices up to €650 per sq ft.

But why the in­crease? The re­cov­ery of the tourism in­dus­try cou­pled with the improvement in the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Greece, says Ge­org Pe­tras, the man­ag­ing part­ner of En­gel & Völk­ers in Rhodes. “We are ex­pect­ing prop­erty prices to rise fur­ther in the long term,” he says.

From rus­tic, white­washed cot­tages to state-of-the-art vil­las, de­mand for Aegean is­land prop­er­ties is high, says Liz Rowl­in­son

Call it the blues: a hill­side house in Corfu, main, is €1m through A Prop­erty in Greece; a villa in Crete, left, is €2.9m with Sav­ills; En­gel & Völk­ers has a €600,000 flat in Rhodes, be­low; Villa Elia in Mykonos, be­low left, is €1.5m through Sphere Es­tates

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