The government has launched a series of initiatives that move along three axes: addressing the problem of affordable housing, utilizing public real estate and removing imbalances that exist in the real estate market. We will move in this direction, trying at the end of the four years to have left a concrete, positive imprint”. This was noted by the Minister of National Economy and Finance, Kostis Hatzidakis, during his greeting today at the Real Estate conference of and Forbes Greece on the subject “The Present – the Future and the Challenges of Real Estate”.

The Minister pointed out that the sector shows an upward trend, which is related to the compression of prices in the last decade, but also goes hand in hand with the more broadly positive course of the economy. “We have an overperformance of the economy: in growth rates, in Foreign Direct Investments, in tourism, in exports, in the very recovery of the investment grade, which is very important for foreign investors. This overperformance of the economy also reflects, of course, on the real estate market, which has a steady upward trend, which has recently intensified. This is no accident. It is the result of both political stability and specific initiatives of the government”, emphasized Mr. Hatzidakis.

The Minister of National Economy and Finance referred to specific initiatives of the government, which are part of three axes:

– The first line of initiatives concerns affordable housing: “The country did not have a housing policy for many years. He started having it again last year. And it started with the “My Home” program. Although the program was messed up, it finally worked! Ended on September 30 and sold out. About 10,000 loans have been approved and many young people have already settled into their homes at an interest rate that is ¼ of the market rate!

But there are other programs that have twice the budget of the “My Home” program. In these programs we also have the dimension of the utilization of public property. So we have the “Coverage” program, where beneficiaries of the Minimum Guaranteed Income can find their own home, with full rent coverage from the State for three years. The “Housing and Work for the Homeless” program, which finds citizens housing through a rent subsidy, but also work through a wage subsidy and insurance contributions for one year. The program “Social Housing for the most vulnerable groups” to prevent and deal with the housing exclusion of vulnerable groups of the population. The program “Renovate – Rent”, for empty private houses, which will be rented for at least 3 years. The State will allocate 50 million euros for this program, which starts immediately. The rental of the property will not include the Airbnb rental. Finally, the “Social Compensation” program for the utilization of public real estate through partnerships between public bodies and private contractors for the creation of social housing, in order to provide citizens with hundreds of apartments.

– The second axis of initiatives is related to the better utilization of public real estate: “Here we have already set up a separate G.G. of Public Property at the MINISTRY. Our effort is focused on ETAD and in general on the Superfund. We are trying to make a fresh start. In ETAD, in addition to the president, Mr. Grigori Anastasiadis, we have a new Managing Director, Mrs. Iro Hatzigeorgiou, with an important career so far in the private sector in the field of real estate, and now as Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Panagiotis Balomenos, who knows Government procedures very well. All three together will coordinate the effort, so that we utilize the Public Property, not in theory, but in practice with schedules and targets. And with the introduction of modern management methods and utilization of the rich portfolio of ETAD, for the benefit of the State and the citizens. As an example, I mention the properties on the Coastal Front of Attica, as well as the ski centers managed by ETAD, as both could give an additional impetus to the development and upgrading of our tourist product. The effort will naturally start from the most mature properties, proceeding with corresponding priorities and schedules.

Another issue that concerns us is that of the registration of State real estate. A step has already been taken with the recent completion of a pilot program of recording 500 properties with the cooperation of ETAD and Superfund. The cooperation between these two entities will continue in the context of the new competition-framework (framework agreement), in order to create the map for 36,000 of ETAD’s properties, to make the registration and to create a more complete register. In addition, in the same direction, ETAD is preparing an open international tender for the selection of a consultant to help plan the company’s five-year strategic plan and the utilization of its properties.

Our planning also includes: The utilization of the other regional airports. The concessions of the ports of Igoumenitsa, Heraklion and Kavala, as well as the concession of the port of Volos which follows. As well as all the necessary steps for the entry of Eleftherios Venizelos Airport to the Stock Exchange. I mention this because the airport also has a series of activities that refer to real estate”.

– The third axis has to do with our broader initiatives in relation to the real estate market: “The real estate market in our country is moving upwards, while the returns on the European real estate market in general are not that important. In Greece, however, we have – after the pandemic subsided – an increase in construction activity again. According to yesterday’s data from ELSTAT, in the eight months of January-August 2023, the total Construction Activity shows, in the whole country, an increase of 9.4% in the number of building permits, an increase of 12.4% in the area and an increase of 16 .5% in volume, compared to the corresponding period of 2022!
Also, we have an increase in investment. It is characteristic that foreign investments for the acquisition of real estate in Greece are headed for a new historical high in 2023 (TtE). According to the figures: In 2022, funds of 2 billion euros had flowed into the Greek real estate market, an increase of 68% compared to 2021. In 2023, however, we are doing even better: In the first half of 2023 alone, 1.1 billion euros flowed in with direction of the real estate market. This is a 39.5% increase compared to the corresponding period in 2022!

In relation to our wider property purchase policy, I want to focus on five points:

1. To simplify the process of transferring real estate. Very important here is the initiative of the Ministry of Digital Governance which puts forward the Digital Property Transfer File and the Digital Contract. It’s a step forward. We as a whole in the government must consider other such steps.
2. The role they play in the real estate market the AEEAP. Here, it is certain that improvement and rationalization is needed in the relevant context, so that AEEAPs become an even more attractive investment product for institutional investors and the Greek real estate market acquires greater depth.
3. The issue of golden visa. The government increased the threshold to 500,000 euros in certain areas in order to make larger investments. But especially for preserved properties, we are thinking of making a special regulation for the minimum limit, in order to direct investment funds to a category of real estate that needs special attention, from a cultural and environmental point of view.
4. Attracting foreign investors through the development of new investment products. An example could be the development of the relatively new investment product concerning the residence of EU country pensioners (the so-called senior living).
5. Further energy upgrading of the building stock, for the benefit of the environment. Just yesterday we announced an additional initiative, which has to do with the reduction of tax for expenditure on goods or receiving services for the energy, functional and aesthetic upgrading of buildings, which will reduce the income tax of natural persons with a maximum total expenditure limit of 16,000 euros. While the costs for materials will be taken into account up to an amount corresponding to 1/3 of the amount for service costs!”.