In Greece, an Economic Revival Fueled by ‘Golden Visas’ in addition to Tourism

ATHENS — Less than a year after Greece emerged through a multibillion-euro international bailout, Athens can be witnessing an investor boom. Hip completely new hotels with Acropolis views are dotting the skyline. Construction workers are tearing into dwellings owned by Greeks needing cash in addition to converting them swiftly to short-term rentals, Airbnbs or fancy completely new homes for foreigners.

Thousands of visa-seekers, a significant portion of them Chinese investors looking for bargain real estate, are coming to This kind of capital city as well as the islands of Santorini in addition to Corfu in search of homes of which will give them a European base.

Local homeowners, pressed by Greece’s lengthy financial crisis, are trying to take advantage of the investor bonanza, selling apartments or renting their homes to tourists in a frenzy of which can be quickly changing the housing market.

The newcomers are chasing Greece’s so-called golden visas, which different crisis-hit countries like Portugal in addition to Spain have used for years to lure investors in a bid to stoke an economic recovery. Spending a minimum of €250,000 on a home in Greece secures a 5-year renewable visa.

Greece can be a latecomer to the global buying trend — in part because its debt crisis was so dire in 2011 — however of which has become a hot destination for those with enough money. The government began offering golden visas in 2013, also drawing investors through Russia, Turkey in addition to the Middle East.

Chinese clients often fly to Greece with suitcases filled with cash, the easiest way to get their money out of China, Ms. Law said. Although China caps individual withdrawals to $50,000 per year, a family of six, for example, can pool their cash, or make transfers through foreign branches of Chinese banks, to buy property, she said.

Greece’s central bank has recently stepped up scrutiny of transactions after some Greek real estate companies were found allowing Chinese clients to buy properties having a credit card.

Argiro Fouraci, 29, recently began renting 5 apartments of which have been in her family for years. A teacher who lost her job during the crisis, she had struggled to get by until offering the apartments, inside favorite Koukaki neighborhood near the Acropolis, as Airbnbs. She said she at This kind of point clears about €400 per month on each apartment, after taxes in addition to management fees.

The earnings help her care for her parents, who are in their 60s in addition to whose pensions were slashed. They, in turn, support her brother, who has opened a vaping store. “Most of my friends are still unemployed,” she said. “at This kind of point I can have a life in addition to help my family.”

Such business has lifted fortunes for Stavros Siempos, 53, the owner of Pantopolion, a grocery in Koukaki of which sells feta cheese, olives in addition to different traditional Greek products. The rise of Airbnb rentals has driven many Greeks through the neighborhood, he acknowledged. “We don’t have Greek neighbors anymore, we have Airbnb neighbors,” he said. however of which can be Great for business, he added. “We’re better off at This kind of point, because tourists have money.”

As Airbnb makes inroads into the country’s real estate, Greece’s golden visa program has opened its housing market — in addition to reshaped its pricing structure. A scan of property listings show many mid-sized apartments in Athens, Thessaloniki in addition to on Greek islands are priced at exactly €250,000, the minimum needed for buyers to qualify for the visa program.

The program has drawn about 10,000 investors through China, Russia in addition to different non-European Union countries, channeling around €1.5 billion into Greek real estate inside last 5 years, according to Enterprise Greece. Chinese investors account for more than 40 percent of visa buyers.

Developers say of which Chinese investment companies have bought apartment buildings throughout Athens, including in low-cost immigrant neighborhoods in addition to once-rough areas like Exarchia, a graffiti-filled district populated mostly by university students.

Yannis Anastassiadis, chief executive of Anastassiadis Group, a real estate company of which works with many Chinese investors, said companies typically renovate an apartment in addition to then sell directly to clients seeking visas.

Real estate agents arrange to meet groups of Chinese visitors at the Athens airport, drive them to view properties in addition to wine in addition to dine them. Lawyers work with the agents to help buyers acquire tax numbers in addition to bank accounts. A buyer does not have to live inside property to qualify for a visa, so after the deal can be done, Mr. Anastassiadis’s firm also manages the apartment as a rental.

Lefteris Potamianos, president of the Athens-Attica Real Estate Association, said the visas have helped revive the market in addition to, in turn, pushed up rental costs in some areas by as much as 30 percent.

Activists have warned of which, when combined with the proliferation of Airbnb, a housing crisis can be threatening entire communities.

Ms. Dolores, the artist who had to find a completely new home, said a foreign investor also bought a building of which housed her employer, a nongovernmental organization. The group, AMOQA, conducts research in addition to promotion of arts in addition to studies on sexuality in addition to gender. The building was also home to a martial arts school in addition to a children’s activity center, she said.

“at This kind of point, the investment company will turn the building into apartments,” Ms. Dolores said. “Aside through people in addition to families, collective spaces in addition to neighborhood networks are also getting displaced in addition to vanishing through the map.”

“of which’s like a domino effect,” she said. “in addition to the most vulnerable are losing out.”