In the final part of our Greek island series we explore the property market in Crete, Kefalonia and the Peloponnese.
At 160 miles long and 35 miles wide,Crete — or Kriti to locals — rarelyfeels like an island. Head off the beaten track and you will find the typically pleasing combination of hidden beaches and a rural lifestyle that typifies much of Greece. The more developed north has more new development attracting British buyers seeking a home in the sun.
Dreamcatchers is based in the Apokoronas province east of Chania, and Rachel Morris’s clients tend to be families seeking villas with budgets of up to £200,000. “This gets you a decent-sized two- or three-bedroomed villa with private or shared pool,” she says. “Most buyers tend not to sell up and move here any more. They want spacious second homes which they can rent out.”
Rental returns are good on this popular island that enjoys one of the country’s longest seasons. “We’re busy from March until November,” says Morris, “People come for walking and cycling and the area we’re based in is surreal. It’s winter, but it’s 20 degrees and I can see snow-capped mountains.”
Villas command about £2,000 per week in summer. Rather than Greece’s problems, issues closer to home are more prevalent in most British buyers’ minds, says Morris. “What’s uppermost now is whether the UK is staying in the EU and how that will affect a purchase here.”
Technically an island since the cutting of the Corinth Canal, the southern peninsula feels more like the mainland, and its varied landscape includes mountain ranges and lush valleys and gorges. It is heavily sprinkled with medieval remains, and history buffs can enjoy architectural delights from Turkish castles to the well-preserved island of Monemvasia.
Skouras Real Estate sells property in the county of Argolida in the eastern Peloponnese where its capital Nafplio is the perfect base for exploring archaeological sites such as Mycenae and the natural harbour of Epidaurus.
“We have the advantage over the islands,” says Skouras Theodoros: “Buyers are willing to drive for up to two hours and it’s an easy drive to Athens.” Theodoros believes that the Peloponnese’s beaches are as much a draw as its history, and prices are attractive compared with the peak of 2007.
“They’re down around 50-60 per cent on plots and between 30-40 per cent on villas, but the area is attractively priced compared with much of Greece,” says Theodoros whose clients are mainly western Europeans, Russians and returning Greeks.
The largest island in the Ionian group came late to tourism, although you wouldn’t know it as it’s a popular spot for British buyers. Some will benefit this summer as there will be new flights from East Midlands airport from First Choice and Thomson. Argostoli, Kefalonia’s buzzing capital, is a well-known haunt but it’s the sumptuous beaches, especially Myrtos — ranked among the world’s finest — that draws the crowds. Kefalonia also has a reputation for restaurants and local wines, especially its white robola.
Tony Edgley of Mantas Real Estate says that most buyers are British, with a smattering of Italians and Australians: “It’s like mini-England here.” The island’s size makes it ideal for longer stays, adds Edgeley, who believes that Kefalonia’s manufacturing industry is a plus. “You can even get furniture hand-made.”
Edgley notices growing demand for new-build which is common as a result of the 1953 earthquake which destroyed many older houses. Retirees prefer low-maintenance homes, and Mantas Real Estate is about to launch a turnkey service. “Clients can have exactly what they want, even furnished if they prefer.”
Kefalonia also continues to be the destination of choice for the discerning investor, and rental returns on properties are among the highest in Europe, says Paul Hitchen of Vinieris Real Estate (kefaloniaproperty.com). “The island is one of stunning natural beauty, is relatively unspoilt, yet very cosmopolitan in the services it offers to visitors; and in the height of summer some of our properties are very often booked two years in advance.”