‘Greece is a compelling opportunity’
Attractive prices, undersupply and friendly policies are what will drive real estate investors to the Greek market, experts agreed at the Market Snapshot: Investing in Greece briefing, which was held online at RealX Global, the first virtual trade fair organised by Real Asset Media.
‘Greece is very attractively priced compared to other European markets and there are many opportunities because of a lack of development,’ said Eri Mitsostergiou, Director of European Research, Savills. ‘There are elements of risk but also a path to recovery and the expectation of a bounce back next year’.
After years of little or no development following the crisis the market is very undersupplied and there are many obsolete buildings.
‘We’ve recently moved in as investors in Greece after acting as advisors for the last few years’, Tassos Kotzanastassis, Founder & Managing Director, 8G Capital Partners. ‘There is political stability at last, and I see a genuine commitment from the Government to cut red tape and attract investment with friendly policies. We now see Greece as a compelling opportunity’.
Hospitality has traditionally been the most attractive sector for foreign investors, but there are opportunities in all asset classes. ‘There is a striking undersupply of offices and a dire need of data centres,’ said Mitsostergiou. ‘Greece is a gateway for Chinese trade into Europe, so Logistics and infrastructure investments are needed as well’.
The privatisation programme offers investors a wide range of opportunities in real estate and infrastructure on the mainland and on the islands and the authorities are willing to fast-track projects.
Residential is also attractive because of the need for good quality housing. Greece ‘could be a test-bed for a mingling of hospitality and residential, as the lines between asset classes are blurring’, said Mitsostergiou. ‘The government is offering great incentives to retirees, so there could be an opportunity in offering them resi products and combining them with healthcare’.
The recovery in Greece starts with the real estate sector. After years of delay work has just started on the massive €8 billion Hellinikon project, on the site of Athens’ former airport, an area three times the size of Monaco. The decision to go ahead despite the pandemic is seen as a signal of Greece’s openness to outside investment and of the importance of the real estate sector.
‘Real estate has always been a pillar of the Greek economy and it’s expected to play a significant role in the recovery after the pandemic’, said Hilda Alisandratou, Associate Director Investment Promotion, Enterprise Greece. ‘Hellenikon will transform the Athenian coastline forever and make the city an all year round, world-class tourist destination’.
Before Covid-19 hit the Greek market had real momentum, helped by the implementation of an ambitious reform programme and a series of measures to attract foreign investors, such as the golden visa, the non-dom regime and tax incentives.
‘Expectations were high for 2020 and Athens was an investment hot spot, but the pandemic has caused real upheaval,’ said Alisandratou. ‘Hospitality and retail have been hit the hardest, and a recovery is unlikely this year, but domestic and foreign investors are still looking at deals and taking the long-term view’.
Local listed companies have invested over €1 billion during the crisis and plan to invest more, especially in Logistics, she said. Big international names are also active in the market, such as Hines which has just acquired a portfolio of hotels in Crete.
Their optimism seems to be justified: according to EU forecasts, the Greek economy will prove to be resilient. GDP will decline by 9% this year but bounce back to +6% growth in 2021.
‘Greece has been called an unlikely success story and it has been praised internationally for the way it handled the pandemic, creating the conditions for a fast recovery and the return of investors’, said Elias Eliades, Deputy Director Investment Promotion and Facilitation, Enterprise Greece.