Greece is the number one travel destination for many. Its white beaches and facades, good food and the relaxed, friendly people enchant anyone who has ever been there. But there is also another side to this: the abandoned houses and the general real estate situation.
Looking through my travel photos, I found beautiful pictures from Corfu, both oppressive and melancholy: vacant, semi-finished testimonies of the implosion of the real estate bubble that Greece has been suffering since 2009.
Real estate in Greece
The prices for home ownership have been declining more and more for years. It has never been cheaper to buy houses there than now. At the same time, however, more and more heirs of property must sell them after receiving them or even reject the inheritance in order to settle debts. It is about outstanding tax claims, unpaid social contributions or open credit amounts for these very houses. Debts that have accumulated since 2009, in the last few years of economic stagnation. In Greece, the handing over of home ownership to the elderly still applies to the life task of older generations.
Every month, for example, property that has been in family ownership for generations is thrown onto the property market. In figures: In 2016, more than 54,000 times an inheritance was dispensed with for precisely these reasons. Prices continue to fall. At the same time, more and more investors or lovers of the region are buying up these properties with the necessary funds. However, the economic crisis is also reflected in the fact that half-finished buildings are lying idle and can be seen everywhere on a trip through the regions. Here you can read and download the real estate report 2016 by PwC.
Corfu – an island full of contrasts
In Corfu, olive trees do not grow in rows and rows in groves, but in small dense forests. The silvery shine of these olive groves can be admired as soon as you arrive at the airport. Mountains and sea alternate and there is something for everyone’s taste: sandy beaches or steep rocky coasts on the west side of the Greek island.
On this wonderful little island, there is a lot of vacancies, as everywhere in Greece. Companies that had to close down on the way and investors who ran out of money because nobody wanted to buy the planned real estate. These architectural skeletons can be seen everywhere along the roadsides.
Several houses and blocks of houses stand abandoned on the streets and in the best location with a view of the sea overgrown around. Some of them are still a scarce building shell, practically only walls and floor, some even have a balcony. None of them have made it to windows, doors or interior installations. As if these beauties had never gotten a chance to be what they were supposed to be. You can guess how beautiful it should have been – and can be. In the minds of the architects and the hopes of the locals: in white surrounded by lush greenery and the dazzling blue of the nearby sea.
On the daily route from our lodging on a hill, we have regularly passed this quiet place. We have lingered, drank water on the stairs, like children exploring the forbidden ruins. The extent of the economic misery that has caused the greed of a few people is something that shows clearly.
But: of course, there would be enough to talk about the vacancies and decay on Corfu, overgrown sales signs or mountains of garbage on the roadside. However, it is enough, for now, to describe the blue of the sea as it can be seen at almost every point on the island. Or the lack of clouds. Or the hopeful cheerfulness of the locals.
The idyll as a counterbalance to the economic misery!
Greece: I love you! With your weaknesses and strengths.
Also published on Medium.
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