Spanish homes, Greek islands up for grabs

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Spanish homes, Greek islands up for grabs

Spanish homes, Greek islands up for grabs
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Sell, sell, sell is the cry echoing through the empty housing estates of Spain.

The leftovers from the property boom and bust are on the block at bargain prices as the banks try to off load homes they got stuck with when over-ambitious developers went bust.

Paul Williams is a sales agent for properties in Murcia and hopes for buyers: “It’s the one solution perhaps to the problem now to put these properties in the hands of owners. In most cases it’s the banks that have that problem and they have the tools to help put it right by lending to people.”

Ten percent of the 10,000 properties built by the company he works for are for sale today, never having been lived in and repossessed from the developer by the banks.

The banks are slashing prices by as much as 70 percent but the buyers will only come if they are sure the value of the homes won’t fall further.

Given Spain’s parlous financial state that is a risky bet.

Also sailing through a sea of debt, Greece is betting it can pay off some of that with long term leases of some of its uninhabited islands. It has identified several dozen and is now promoting them.

Estate agent Nikos Lagos was keen to point out how accessible is the one he hopes to find a tenant for: “This is one of the islands, of the 48 that have been selected. It’s a small paradise very close to Athens and to Athens airport. Only, I think, four hours from Paris.”

Under pressure from its international lenders to speed up privatisations, Athens has also announced it will sell almost all of its 34 percent stake in the country’s gambling monopoly OPAP.

OPAP, which is Greece’s most profitable state firm, is central to government plan to raise 19 billion euros from privatisations by 2015.