Dubai: Some UAE and Gulf travellers are drawing up plans for short visits to Greece this summer, but not necessarily to catch the scenery or the sun. Instead, they will be on the lookout to pick up choice real estate assets on the cheap.
Valuations on Greek realty are down to “10 cents to the dollar” from their 2007 peaks as the country sinks further into an economic morass and for which the wise heads of Europe don’t seem to have a solution for.
Gulf investors can tick any number of reasons for picking up a Greek real estate deal now, and they need not be high risk-addicts to head that way. And these factors will still hold true whatever be the outcome of the referendum.
“If Greece remains in the Eurozone and the government agrees to undertake austerity measures, then real estate prices could continue to soften due to the further recession ahead,” said David Godchaux, CEO of Core Savills. “But there would be no sudden drop in prices and as such no real opportunity for largely discounted assets.
“If Greece does exit, there will be a sharper drop in prices if a new currency comes into place as it is likely to depreciate quite drastically. We can only hope that the government chooses to restructure the economy the right way, how Ireland did several years ago to reduce their debt ratio as part of efforts to stay in Europe and mount a recovery.
Doing things the hard way, as Ireland, Portugal and Spain have done in the past few years, is the best way to ensure that real estate prices rebound in the mid- to long-run. This will make Greece attractive again to overseas real estate investors.
“Any other outcome would result in an environment where investors are making highly speculative investments.”
But there are some choice valuations being offered up for prime assets as cash-strapped Greek developers/investors seek exits.
“All sorts of assets are on the table … even islands,” said Sameer Lakhani, Managing Director of Global Capital Partners. “Hospitality related properties figure prominently, as uncertainty shrouds its tourism industry.
“For instance, a two-star hotel apartment building (90 rooms) is on sale. It last traded in 2008 for 95 million euros and currently being offered at 10.5 million euros plus transaction fees.”
“While the situation in Greece is extreme at the moment — and only fit for active consideration by the most opportunistic of investors — history seems to suggest there is more likely than not to be a rebound in asset prices.
Such deals are certainly not the exception. Value erosions have been precipitous — Lakhani mentions a fully-fitted office building in prime central Athens going for 900,000 euros (plus transaction fees). It was quoted at 6.3 million euros in 2007.
Another office property, in west Athens, was trading at 12.5 million euros in 2007 and now comes in at 1.2 million euros plus transaction costs.
“Barring a few exceptions, asset prices inevitably recover, although the time taken to recover may vary widely,” said Lakhani. “In this case, fortune could favour the brave.”