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Greeks pour cash into London real estate
Greeks pour cash into London real estate
 It has the makings of an economic tragedy of epic proportions.

As Brussels battles to prevent Greece from becoming the Eurozone’s first member to default, the country’s crisis is talk of the town among Greek communities thousands of miles from Athens.

One year after Greece received a $158 billion bail out from the International Monetary Fund, the outlook remains dire.

Money is still  pouring out of the country while authorities fret about a brain drain – factors that are having a surprising impact on London’s estimated 400,000-strong Greek population.

Financially, Greece is standing on shaky ground: the European Commission expects its debt to balloon to over 157% of gross domestic product this year while its economy is set to contract 3.5%.

This week Moody’s cut its credit rating on Greek debt and raised the chances of a default to 50-50. The true extent of Greece’s cash deficit may become clear as soon as today as IMF and European officials complete their audit of its public accounts.

What’s more: resistance to painful – but necessary – belt-tightening has thrown into question Greece’s ability to stop spending and to raise tax revenues.

The result: the country faces a $43 billion funding gap by next year.

That’s about the same amount that has gone offshore since the start of 2010, Greek treasury officials say.

Much of that money has found its way into London’s real estate market where agents like Panos Koutsogiannakis have seen surge in interest from Greek investors.

“We’ve had a steady stream of enquiries all of this year,” Koutsogiannakis, a Greek-Australian, tells me from the London offices of realtor Hyde Park Agencies.

“Most are cash buyers and some haven’t even seen the properties before. I have one client transacting on a $1.3 million flat which they haven’t ever seen.”

Koutsogiannakis says his average Greek client is spending between $1.2 million and $2.4 million on apartments in some of the most expensive areas in the British capital, like Knightsbridge and Mayfair.

Four doors along, realtor Stephen Kalogroulis of  Hellas Helvetia says he is getting up to 20 enquiries a week.

He tells me the parlous state of Greece’s economy is “a standard conversation” he has with Greek investors on a near daily basis.

“They want to talk about it all of the time,” he says.

"They want to talk about how the property market has collapsed, how there are no jobs."

There may be a dearth of employment opportunities in Greece but the boom in demand for Greek speakers is attracting young workers to London in droves.

“Loads of people are coming over here and they’ll take anything they can get,” says Kalogroulis.

“We advertised for a lettings agent four weeks ago and we got 25 enquiries from Greece. Normally we would get only one or two.”

Kalogroulis eventually filled the post last week, hiring a civil servant from Athens who has now moved to the UK.

Yet what may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance for some has also had devastating consequences for other London-based Greeks, especially for those planning to return home to retire.

Natives like Babis Kalamis once dreamed of returning home but those hopes have been dashed by Greece’s dangerous debt spiral and rampant unemployment.

“I’ve lived in the UK nearly 30 years,” Kalamis tells me while stacking shelves at the Athenian Grocery in London’s Bayswater district.

“Last year, after I lost my wife, I went back to live in Greece for a year. That was just when the crisis started,” he says. “When I left it was full-blown. It was bad. So, I came back here and now I am an employee here at this store.”

Cause for complaint, I ask him? “No, I’m happy here but took some time for me to find myself,” replies Kalamis philosophically.

For Greece’s sake let’s hope ministers have a “Eureka” moment soon, as the economic fate of millions lies in the balance.

Posted on Friday, June 03, 2011 @ 15:56:43 JST by admin

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Re: Greeks pour cash into London real estate (Score: 1)
by FriedaPinto on Thursday, March 02, 2017 @ 19:47:27 JST
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Re: Greeks pour cash into London real estate (Score: 1)
by FriedaPinto on Thursday, March 16, 2017 @ 16:38:54 JST
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Re: Greeks pour cash into London real estate (Score: 1)
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Re: Greeks pour cash into London real estate (Score: 1)
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Re: Greeks pour cash into London real estate (Score: 1)
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