June 6 - Russian demand for Greek property has soared as property prices plummet and cash-strapped Europeans slow down on purchases amid deepening economic uncertainty. Joel Flynn reports.
As the ancient Chinese proverb goes, in crisis there is opportunity. But when it comes to the current Greek crisis, it's the Russians that seem to have taken these words to heart. According to Greek estate agents, Russian investors have flooded the property market there, taking advantage of a roughly 30% drop in the price of houses in the last three years. And, says realtor Yannis Revithis, the trend shows no sign of letting up. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) PRESIDENT OF GREEK REAL ESTATE AGENTS FEDERATION, YANNIS REVITHIS, SAYING: "We would say that there is an increase in demand of at least 200 percent from interested Russian buyers and this shows also in the demand for tourist accommodation from Russians which increased by at least 100 percent. So we see a huge shift in Russian interest and by Russians in the Greek market." German, British and French buyers have for long dominated the holiday housing market but as demand from them has dried up during the crisis, Russian buyers have stepped in. Russian real estate investors are undeterred by the country's political and economic woes and have been snapping up top price property as well as more modest homes. Large-scale Russian property investors have been holding off on major deals anxious the country might quit the euro. But for smaller investors looking at vacation houses represent around 80 percent of Russian buyers. And, according to head of the Greek-Russian chamber of commerce these investors will remain interested with or without the euro. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ZOI KUPRIANOVA, HEAD OF GREEK-RUSSIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, SAYING: "If we take Chalkidiki - because it is very popular among tourists - we can say that 80 percent or 70 percent are Russian buyers. Or if we take Crete for example, we can say it is 40-50 percent of buyers that are Russian - this is just the last two-three years, because before there were more British and German buyers in Crete. But in the past few years Russians are frequent and welcomed guests there." Rather than feel threatened by the sudden influx of Russians into the country, Greeks have opened their arms. The Greek Real Estate Federation is apparently already in talks with the foreign ministry to ease the visa regime and even provide citizenship for those who invest over a million euros. Joel Flynn, Reuters