Exactly a year ago, Corfu property specialist Diane returned from London to Corfu, knowing that there was some sort of virus beginning to spread. Heathrow seemed to have normal passenger volume, but Athens airport was very quiet and shortly after her return, Greece went into its first lockdown. There were no UK incoming flights to Corfu’s regional airports until July.
However, despite the uncertainty of 2020, many buyers still found their dream home in Corfu, and you can too! Diane tells us how the Corfu property market is looking at the moment…
At first, we wondered whether we would have any kind of tourist season and whether we would have clients looking to buy houses. Amazingly enough, as soon as borders opened and flights re-started, we had one of the busiest years in our fifteen-year experience. Greece was pretty strict in its rulings, and we all had to adopt safety measures to cope with the virus. Some businesses continued to operate, although many, such as the large hotels, decided to stay closed.
Get ready for when travel restarts by reading our free Viewing Trip Guide so you know exactly what to look out for when seeing properties.
Many of our clients said that the virus had really made them re-evaluate their lives – some had been thinking for years of making the move to Greece or buying a holiday home. Others looked at Greece, and the islands in particular, as a ‘safe-haven’ with low infection levels. They suffered endless flight changes and cancellations, viewed wearing masks and gloves, and sat in our office with plexiglass screens between us. But, many of them found their dream property and are now happy owners of Greek homes.
Similarly, those who were investing not only for their own holiday homes but for holiday letting, have found that the holiday market has shifted somewhat, with more people looking for villas with privacy and space, instead of package hotels.
The economy in Greece has suffered like the rest of the world, so investment from foreign buyers is of great importance to the authorities. Many people are taking advantage of the ‘golden visa’ residence permit which offers extendable family visas and is valid throughout Schengen countries.
We’ve been making short videos of many properties for virtual viewings
Brexit has also polarised the market, with some buyers wanting to ‘escape’ the UK and others deciding to put purchase plans on hold until the full effects of Brexit are revealed. Nonetheless, there are many enquiries from people still planning a visit to view, and hopefully to find, their perfect homes, as soon as the current lockdowns are lifted. We’ve been making short videos of many properties to send to clients (we definitely haven’t achieved perfection yet!) and several sales have actually resulted from these virtual viewings.
Looking forward to summer
The Greek islands seem to have escaped the worst of the pandemic. There are some restrictions but as I write, we can still go out for shopping, exercise etc. and infection levels are very low. The major cities are still suffering, but the Greek government are controlling on a regional basis which seems to be effective.
Everyone is looking ahead to the summer and keeping fingers crossed that borders will be open, and the majority of restrictions lifted. Our viewing diary is filling up with people who want to view properties ‘as soon as possible’. This winter we have welcomed many new residents and we have many clients looking forward to the day when they can come to their new holiday homes – long may it continue!