Update: And because any story that involves Greece (or originating from Newsweek) must be promptly denied in keeping with European headline hockey customs:
— Jennifer Ablan (@jennablan) July 21, 2015
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On Monday, we brought you a day in the life of a Greek realtor. Courtesy of Bloomberg, we got a first-hand account of what it’s like in the Athens real estate market now that the Greek economy has collapsed.
“For the last 15 days,” the Athenian realtor featured in the video says, “the market has been really dead.”
That’s not surprising. Capital controls have gripped the country since PM Alexis Tsipras called for a referendum on creditors’ proposals and Greeks are more concerned about whether they’ll be food on the shelves and gas at the pumps (an acute credit crunch threatens to leave the country with a shortage of imported goods) than they are about buying homes.
“At least 50% of real estate agents have closed down,” the realtor continues, adding that “the market has been only those who can afford [to pay] cash in recent years.”
But who can afford to pay cash for property in Greece? For the answer, we go to Newsweek.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has joined up with Italian real estate agent Alessandro Proto to purchase a Greek island off the coast of Athens.
Consistently ranked as one of the wealthiest men in the world, Buffett and Italian millionaire Proto, acquired the island of St Thomas for €15m last Thursday, Proto Enterprises confirmed today.
St Thomas is located in the Saronic Gulf near the Port of Piraeus, the largest Greek sea-port, and one of the largest in the East Mediterranean sea-basin. 45 minutes from Athens by ferry and 20 minutes from Corinth, the 1.2 sq km island is uninhabited, according to Private Island Online, a real estate site for private islands across the world.
Buffett, 84, who has a net worth of around €62.4bn, and Proto plan to build a real estate development on the island, according to The Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-mpa), who broke the story on Saturday.
A Proto representative told Spiegel Online, “Greece is currently very attractive for investment in the development of real estate.”
The website Public Islands Online markets Greek islands as the “ultimate status symbol, evoking images of sunglass sporting shipping magnates sipping champagne on the deck of enormous yachts.”
Yes, Greece “evokes images of sunglass sporting shipping magnates sipping champagne on the deck of enormous yachts” or it evokes images of fiery street protests and laid off public sector workers digging through dustbins for food – it just kind of depends on your perspective, we suppose.
But kind of like how poor Americans would be better off if they would just wake up and realize that Janet Yellen is right about how important it is for low income households to “build assets“, Greece’s downtrodden citizens would perhaps be buying more property (and especially more private islands) if they were just willing to consider the fact that the market is full of bargains right now:
“In reality, Greek islands are relatively affordable, costing as little as $2m [€1.8m] – less than a ski chalet in Aspen or a walk up on the Upper East side.”
See there Greek pensioners who are living off €120/month? A private island right in your own backyard is far more affordable that that ski chalet in Aspen you weren’t looking at.
And it’s not just Buffett doing the buying:
ANA-mpa reported that American actor Johnny Depp also purchased a Greek island late last week for €4.2m. The island of Stroggilo is located in the Aegean Sea near the popular Marathos island.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are also reported to have expressed interest in the Greek islands.
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Buffett island, courtesy of privateislandsonline.com
ABOUT ST. THOMAS
St. Thomas Island is part of the Diapori chain in the Saronicos Gulf, an area of Greece mythologized for the lush emerald beauty of its picturesque islands. The island is the middle in a chain of three islands currently available for sale, and totals 300 acres, 50 of which are clear for purchase.
Accessible from Corinth by water taxi, approx 20 minutes, Athens. 45minutes. There are 2 charming villages in the immediate area with luxury villas along the surrounding coast. The nearest town of Korfos is a quiet resort village whose many small sailboats dot the shimmering Saronikos and Argolic gulfs. The town of Megara is just a half hour away, making the location absolutely prime for a resort catering to Europe’s elite.
ABOUT STROGGILO ISLAND
The island of Stroggilo is a 54-acre island located near the popular island of Marathos, in the Aegean Sea. Is covered with green, almost all year long, cause of the water it has, the water can became drinkable with small process.
Stroggilo is the ideal choice for tourist development due to its proximity to Marathos and Patmos Island, Marathos has a power grid established already.
All Aegean islands are famous for their beautiful clear water, there sandy beaches, ideal for swimming, sea sports and fishing, the same goes for Stroggilo, a perfect 110 meters beach that can easily transform to a heaven on earth place for vacations.
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Of course Buffett and Depp’s purchases come with the ancillary benefit of being in close proximity to another well-to-do island-goer…