Thursday, August 11, 2011

In Time of Austerity, Real Estate Is a Tough Sell in Greece

New York Times
August 11, 2011

Katerina Katopis apologized for being late for an appointment. “I was with a client who wants to buy a villa,” she said, “and when that happens, you don’t cut short the meeting.”

Her attitude is shared by many. Since accepting a controversial bailout plan from the European Union, after months of strikes and demonstrations, Greece now faces an enforced sale of assets and cuts to public services.

That Ms. Katopis, investor relations manager for the Greek developer Dolphin Capital Investors, has buyers at all is surprising. “The troubles are happening in central Athens; away from the city you don’t see any problems,” she said. “Greece is still a beautiful country. It’s attracting tourism, and investors can see the value of buying here.”

In reality, there is trouble all over Greece, businesses are failing at an unprecedented rate, unemployment is higher than 16 percent and public disorder is widespread. There is also concern that the country, whose credit rating was downgraded again by both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s in recent months, might still default, despite the European Union’s rescue efforts.


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