Local and international press see the light at the end of the tunnel for Greece
Tranio analysts are confident that now is the best time to buy Greek property, as prices have bottomed out and will soon recover. According to the Bank of Greece, prices of property in Athens stopped falling from Q2 2017. Reports in domestic and international media in Q1 2018 paint the same picture – the country is finally recovering after years in the doldrums.
In January, Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan gave an interview to the Greek newspaper Ekathimerini, in which he expressed his views on the situation in Greece, “Finally there is light at the end of the tunnel. The outlook for 2018 remains positive. Nevertheless, the road to normalisation will remain long and difficult”. According to him, the success of Greece in the long term will largely depend on its willingness to cooperate with the European Union (EU).
A month later, international credit rating agency Moody's upgraded Greece’s Issuer Rating from Caa2 to B3. Analysts believe that the country will successfully complete the third support program and return to self-dependence and financing of the domestic market. Moody's believes that the risk of default or restructuring of debt to private investors has significantly decreased.
In early March, the Hellenic Statistical Authority published data showing that after eight years of recession, Greece’s GDP grew for four straight quarters. Economic growth from October to December 2017 was 2.4%. According to the European Commission, the Greek economy will continue to grow by 2.5% per year between 2018 and 2019.
On March 27, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) approved the fourth tranche of financial assistance for Greece totalling €6.7 billion. it noted that this was because the Greek government had implemented the necessary economic reforms and taken the required austerity measures. ESM managing director Klaus Regling expressed his confidence in the country, saying “Greece is on track to successfully exit the ESM programme in August 2018”.
However, some analysts are still apprehensive. For example, Phyllis Papadavid, a macroeconomics specialist at the Overseas Development Institute, writes in his Bloomberg column: "Europe is unlikely to agree to significant debt forgiveness as it will want to ensure that Greece’s over-borrowing does not repeat elsewhere in the euro zone. With a 176 percent debt-to-GDP ratio, and little prospects for growth acceleration or healthy capital inflows, investing in Greece is not for the faint of heart”.
Greece is experiencing a boom in tourism. According to the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), the largest Greek airports registered a total of 18.3 million international arrivals in 2017 –8.6% more than in 2016. According to statistics from the Athens International Airport, there were 2.7 million international arrivals from January to March 2018, which is 15.9% more than the year before.
According to the Bank of Greece, the country’s tourism revenue grew by 10.7%, reaching €14.6 billion in 2017. SETE president Yannis Retsos was quoted by Bloomberg as saying that to increase tourism revenues to €20 billion by 2021, the country needs to invest €6 billion a year in this sector.
The country is especially popular among German tourists. As Ekathimerini reported, citing data from German market research company GfK, summer bookings to Greece by German holidaymakers were 40% higher than a year ago by the end of January, making Greece the most popular holiday destination among Germans.
According to The Washington Times, citing data from the American Enterprise Institute, Chinese businessmen have invested nearly $9 billion in Greece since 2008, which is equivalent to about 5% of Greece’s GDP. "Unlike many in Europe, Chinese investors saw the Greek economic crisis of the past decade not as a disaster but as an opportunity", the paper said.
Foreign investments in Greek real estate are actively growing. According to Ekathimerini, in 2017 they reached a historic high with estimates putting the total amount at €503 million. According to the Bank of Greece, the total value of transactions among foreigners in the Greek real estate market was 86.5% higher than in 2017 than in 2016, and the total value of transactions concluded in January 2018 was 205% higher than in January 2017.
Consulting company Danos, which published a report on the real estate market in Athens for Q2 2017, noted an increase in the demand for centrally located low-cost offices and said that this was because investors are repurposing them into small hotels or apartments for short-term rental to tourists using Airbnb.