Greece’s economic crisis may be bad news for Greek citizens and eurozone leaders, but the turmoil is working out quite well for wealthy Russians looking for a place in the sun. According to German magazine Bild, the number of luxury Greek villas bought by Russians has doubled in 2015 compared to previous years.
Russia’s interest in Greece has come to the fore recently as the Greek government’s negotiations with the eurozone have broken down. Last month the two countries agreed to build a €2bn gas pipeline, while Russian businesses already have a strong hold on neighbouring Cyprus, comprising 10% of the island nation’s economy.
Since the start of Greece’s financial meltdown in 2009 the price of luxury real estate in the country has plummeted by 50% and a survey of Russian and Greek real estate agents done by Bild shows that while prices are down, demand is increasing.
“If a villa on the Greek island of Syros still cost €1.6m a few years ago, it is now selling for just €800,000,” said Isabelle Razi, the founder of the Greek realtor agency IRM Aegean Estate.
Russia’s own currency crisis, which has seen the rouble increase in volatility – devaluing in a single day by as much as it did during the economic crisis of the 90s – has also encouraged Russian businessmen to look for real estate in Greece
According to Bild, the demand for high-end Greek properties have nearly doubled since last year, with the suburbs of Athens, the region of Halkidiki and the island of Crete being the most popular destinations. Russians and Chinese investors are the biggest bargain hunters for opulent villas in Greece, mostly in and around Athens, although investors from neighbouring Bulgaria and Serbia are also among those buying luxury properties at cut prices in Greece.
IRM Aegean Estate are even advertising properties in a package deal, as two villas in Corfu with a 500 sq m beach and a private garden are on sale for €4.5m, meaning the original asking price has been knocked down by €1.5m.
“Now is absolutely the best time to buy,” Svetlana Kuklina from the real estate agency Greece.ru said. “Prices cannot possibly fall any lower.” Is that in euros or drachma?