Chinese Investors Snatching Up Greek Real Estate



Over the past few years a Greek real-estate boom has gained momentum as hard times have taken prices down. So, news that Chinese buyers are maxing out their investments comes as no surprise.

Greece property market
Greece is an amazing value since the recession seems to have ended

Taking advantage of Greece’s “Golden Visa” program, Chinese and other non-EU investors can attain residence permits to Greece and the greater EU area, if they only invest €250,000 euro in real estate.

According to Carrie Law, who is the CEO of Juwai.com, the property portal of choice for Chinese consumers, the number of Greece property requests has quadrupled over the last few months. In fact, Chinese buying inquiries increased by 137.5 percent in the third quarter alone, according to Law.

At the other end of the spectrum, Greek real estate agents are now keen to capitalize on the boom in Chinese investment. China worldwide real-estate investment reached $119 plus billions in 2017, and 2018’s figures are now well past $123 billion. And where Greece is concerned, it’s not only the Chinese who are focused on potential boom markets. This Forbes report spotlights Germany, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta as European countries with immense potential. Market expert Panos Mourdoukoutas also points to the added bonus of “Citizenship” for foreigners who buy properties tied to such visa programs.

In addition, a recent study by Arbitrage Real Estate showed that major investment groups such as Apollo Global Management, PIMCO and Bain Capital had in their non-performing loan portfolios, some 140 Greek hotel properties valued at over 282 million euros. According to the news from GTP, Yannis Orfanos, an investment management executive at Arbitrage is cited saying:

“Based on current data, 75 percent of hotel exposures secured by real estate collateral, either due to size and location or due to poor quality and need of renovations, do not interest large hotel chains or international investors in the sector. These are, however, an opportunity for certain international travel agents and domestic unit managers seeking quality 3-star hotels, and generally larger hotels in popular up-and-coming tourist destinations.”

Finally, property brokers Tranio and the Bank of Greece have provided amplification of Greece’s newfound popularity with investors. According to the brokerage firm, the Bank of Greece report on the record number of foreign tourists hitting Greece exceeding 32 million by the end of 2018 will impact both hotel and private property (Airbnb) investments.

Greek real estate reached a record high back in 2017 with the total value of transactions with foreign investors rising above €328 million euros, a figure that was twice the 2016 investment. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for that year exceeded €3.6 billion euros according to the Bank of Greece. George Kachmazov, founder and managing partner Tranio offered this statement:

“The current low real estate prices and high demand contribute to higher returns for investors. Thus, the net yield on the short-term rent of a renovated city centre apartment in Athens is 5–7 percent per annum vs 3 percent in most European capitals. Moreover, there is potential for real estate prices to grow by 20-30 percent over the next two or three years.” 

Greece villas
Greece has unbelievable property values compared to many European markets

Back in the Summer, the hedge fund Dromeus Capital announced plans to invest €200 million euros ($231.82 million) in Greek commercial real estate. I mention this because Greek Advantage, Dromeus’ first fund launched way back in October 2012, ended up returning an annualized 15.2 percent return since launch. Clearly, the advantages of investing in markets that have bottomed out is taking hold in Greece. For those still skeptical, I say “follow the small time Israeli investor.” This story tells of up and coming Israeli investors looking to Greece for the big win as the country bottoms out of a huge recession. Reporting from here in Heraklion, Crete, I’d advise any would-be investor to pay close attention to the success stories of these Israeli entrepreneurs. That is, if Chinese billions are not convincing enough.