The geography of Greece offers challenges to international buyers. How do you find the right Greek property location when you have over 200 islands to choose from? Diana from Corfuhomefinders explains how most people find their perfect island.
Where to buy? What to buy? How to buy? All questions potential buyers in Greece ask themselves, none with simple answers. My personal experience is Corfu based, but from our years of experience at Corfuhomefinders with a wide variety of buyers, we have discovered certain things. Firstly that the majority plan their purchase well in advance. Second that they decide to buy in a location they know well and where they feel comfortable. Thirdly, they will already have a good idea of how the new home will fit into their lifestyle.
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I would calculate approximately that half of our clients have fallen in love with Corfu and are regular visitors. Another 30% have been to Corfu once or twice and have maybe visited other areas as well before making their choice. One in ten have passed through on their way to somewhere else, maybe on a cruise ship. The last 10% have never been here at all and have simply done a lot of research and plumped for Corfu as “ticking the boxes”.
Living here vs holidaying
Even some of those who have visited many times and have a ‘feel’ for the island still need to find out on a practical level how different it might be when they own a property here. They may enjoy living a peaceful life near the sea for their holidays, but find that on a regular basis they would prefer to be part of village community. So while a holiday choice is one type of property, a lifestyle change would be another.
Many people are seeking a property as both their own holiday home and also a part-time holiday let
Similarly, many people are seeking a property as both their own holiday home and also a part-time holiday let. In this case “head vs heart” comes into the equation. How to balance their idea of a home for themselves against a property which will appeal to other people for their holidays?
This is the most complex situation of all and needs considerable thought on the part of the buyer. Which scenario is the most important to them? The finances also need a careful check. Once expenses have been calculated the property might not yield the huge profits envisaged when the income in considered. For most buyers the property will be considered a success if it gives them a lovely home, covers its operating expenses, finances the owner’s holidays, and leaves some over for upgrades and maintenance.
Research for new property viewers
The “once or twice” type of visitor may well have only seen a few potential property locations on the island. Since all areas are vastly different, when they come as buyers they should first explore the areas in great depth. Which ones will appeal on a more permanent basis? The various online forums can be useful to give a broad outline but there is definitely no substitute for people doing their own in-depth research.
If planning a year round home, they should visit in the out-of-season months as well as the summer season.
It is so valuable to spend time driving around the areas, wandering around villages, checking out the facilities. If they are planning a year-round home, they should visit in the out of season months as well as the summer tourist season.
The “passing through” buyer probably has a very general overview of the island, but little idea of locations or relative property values. Again, on-the-ground research is vital. Anyone who has been to the island, or anywhere else in Greece, even for a short period, has probably made their choice on general surroundings and atmosphere on a lovely summer day. They again need to travel around the area and pin down the characteristics which are most important to them.
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The “never visited” buyer appears less often, but there are certainly people who base their choice simply on a long wish list, regardless of location. Corfu comes high in these assessments for a variety of reasons – good transport links in summer (reasonable ones in winter via Athens or Thessalonika), a small, manageable island, a wide range of properties for sale, good area for a home/investment, multicultural community – the list goes on. Many people, have a short list of destinations and check one location off against another, as well as looking at properties in their specific areas.
“A house like the one in…”
Culture can have a great influence when choosing a Greek property location. Occasionally we get buyers who have not done much research at all and contact us for “a house like the ones in Mamma Mia” (not filmed in Corfu) or more commonly now “a house like the Durrell house”. They, in particular, may have no concept of “real life” living and need to look at online forums and visit first. They should look around independently to see if the particular location appeals to them in real life.
One of our Corfu properties in fact featured in The Durrells (Sven’s Barn). But it might not make everyone’s dream home!
One of our Corfu properties in fact featured in The Durrells (Sven’s Barn). But although Sven lived in it, in fact it is by no means habitable and needs complete renovation. It might not make everyone’s dream home! That isn’t to say that it’s a mistake to choose a location based on a TV programme. The atmosphere of the place will have come across on screen, and people will have picked up on this as somewhere they would like to be, so it can be a good starting point.
Research is now far easier than in the past where guide books were the main source of information. Even the most recent reprints can be out of date. These days, official online information from agencies and tourist boards should give a general picture, and online forums and groups can give a more detailed picture.
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I remember once updating a guide book and seeing Benitses in Corfu described as a “fishing village”. Which, 30 years ago, it was indeed. By the time I was updating the guide book, however, it was the hub of night-time activities for the young, with clubs and bars all along the main street. Since then Benitses, declined for quite a few years, with the clubs and bars moving to Kavos (also occasionally described as a fishing village!). But now it has been re-incarnated with a pretty Marina, great selection of tavernas, and a soon to be opened 5-star hotel.
Basically, the message is, while research is vitally important, and these days easier than ever, there is no substitute for “feet on the ground”.
Using your agent
Make use of your agent as a prime source of information when choosing a home location in Greece. In our case, we have lived on the island for years, know it intimately, from changing lifestyles from one season to another. If you are buying a property in your home country, you will automatically have a huge amount of local knowledge. Buying abroad you may not, even if you have holidayed extensively here.
We always consider that our job is not just to find the right property for our clients, but that the search parameters have to be much wider. We have to consider the lifestyle a client is hoping to find, how they see themselves fitting into that particular way of life, how they are going to manage their property. A whole host of issues which are actually simple to deal with when you know how – and we know how!