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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 29 October 2016
GREECE 20 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 29 OCTOBER 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Vacation homes for Greeks living abroad could be the key Activist and TV & radio producer Harry Tsoukalas, who helped restore 4,000 heritage homes in Corfu, lays down some ideas for overcoming the Greek economic crisis With 90 per cent of all property sales in Greece being made to foreigners, mostly Germans, it's entirely possible that there will be very few Greeks left in their own country in the years to come. Many Greeks have moved overseas already. More than a third of households are unable to meet tax obligations, meaning four out of ten Greeks hand over properties to the state to fulfil future payments; one in three, unable to keep up mortgage repayments, ends up selling for whatever they can get. Now a team of Australian and American Greeks are determined to promote investment to help crisis-stricken Hellenes in their own country. Harry Tsoukalas has teamed up with Marina in South Africa, Sophia in USA, Effie in Greece and Athena in Australia, and they want to bring Greek expats to make the difference. "We have a moral obligation to Greece, the country that gave western civilisation democracy, maths and medicine, theatre and more," Tsoukalas tells Neos Kosmos. "We owe it to Greece to make some magic and help out, and bring some good returns to their investments". Many properties offered can be great holiday homes for Greek families from overseas. While Greeks living in Greece may emigrate for better career prospects, now is an opportunity for Greek families from abroad to purchase holiday homes in Greece, investing in their homeland and offering their families the experience of Greek culture and customs. The investors can also get a good return through seasonal rentals. For foreign residents, buying a property in Greece has become easier and cheaper. Transfer taxes have been dropped from a whopping 11 per cent to just three per cent − and first home buyers from Greece don't have to pay the transfer tax. Real estate lawyers are optional, not required. And notary fees have been halved. As for the new tax all Greeks are screaming about, it’s just 0.3 to 0.5 per cent property tax, a tax every citizen in Australia and beyond is accustomed to. And with construction down, restoration of the old historic village homes, and even new building costs, are now at the lowest level ever. Harry and his angels are teaming up now with Airbnb and Uber to offer rental incomes to investors for the days they don't use their new homes, as rates offered from the global giant are much higher than any of the tour operators. A minimum yield of six per cent is achievable, plus investors can use the property for their own holidays as well. "This new initiative will not only bring Greek expats back home, it will also result in creating muchneeded work back in the villages and the cities all around Greece. From the owners and the lawyers to notaries and architects to construction workers and cleaners, all will benefit," he explains. It's not the first time Tsoukalas has been involved in real estate investment. Through his efforts, 4,000 heritage homes on Corfu were restored to their former glory. Born in Corfu, Greece, Harry lived for many years in Sydney. While living in Australia, through his work on recycling and restoring, he learned the importance of our past. "Once it's gone it's gone forever. We must try our best possible ways to preserve our heritage," Harry says. His passion came to fruition when he returned to Corfu, attracting attention to the deteriorating old historic ruins in the Corfu villages in the British media. His dream to restore thousands of the heritage properties to their former glory came true with the help of many British investors and the new economy of residential tourism kickstarted. "Now I want to help all the Greeks and stand united to face the storm," says Tsoukalas. "It's not just about Corfu anymore."
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