Greece's Housing Crisis: Rejuvenating Empty Homes Could Hold the Key

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The potential return of at least 700,000 currently vacant or long-empty homes to the real estate market could play a pivotal role in addressing Greece's housing crisis.

Data from the Eteron Institute for Research and Social Change reveals that Greece has the highest rate of vacant homes in Europe, with concentrated pockets in urban areas. In 2011, the vacancy rate in Athens stood at 31%, Piraeus at 28%, and Thessaloniki at 28.2%.

This missing supply significantly impacts rental prices, which have surged by 40% to 50% in recent years, squeezing household budgets. Additionally, many currently available rental apartments are old, lacking renovations, and often low-quality.

Data from the online property management platform Protio underlines this, revealing that a staggering 65% of rental apartments have never been renovated. Furthermore, 89% of the country's total housing stock exceeds 25 years of age, with only 11% built after 2000 – a consequence of the financial crisis.

"Half the people who seek our help in maximizing their property's value through sale or renovation and rental have owned it unused for years," Protio's managing director, Antonis Fiorakis, tells Kathimerini. "It's evident that stimulating supply through these idle properties can alleviate the current housing crisis and expand tenant options."

These vacant properties are often inherited, with heirs neither requiring them for their own housing needs nor having the funds for necessary renovations. As a result, they remain locked away for years.

However, Protio highlights that an investment of, for example, €25,000 in an apartment's renovation and energy upgrade can be recouped within three or four years, making it more lucrative than leaving the property vacant.

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