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U.S. Real Estate Company Eyes Opportunity in Greece

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Privately-held real estate firm Hines has set its sights on Greek real estate as foreign real estate firms snap up undeveloped plots in the country in the wake of the Euro debt crisis, a report on Kathimirini.com said.

The entry of Hines in the market is set to renew Greece’s position as a prime destination for foreign property investors, the report noted. It said Hines has been in talks for launching properties in the country for the past few months.  

The report added that Hines is widening its reach in Greece in time for the arrival of one of its executives, who will be working off Athens to promote the firm’s activities. The company was reported to be investing over 500 million Euros in the Greek real estate market.

Hines was first reported to be shopping around in the broader Greek property market following the tender for the Astir Palace Resort in Athens. Citing sources familiar with the matter, Kathimirini.com said that the company then negotiated for real estate assets like the Porto Karras in Central Macedonia and Athens-based real estate investment firm Trastor.

Other foreign investors that have recently entered the Greek real estate market are New York’s York Capital and Third Point, Los Angeles’s Oaktree Capital Management and Colony Capital, Toronto’s Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, Israel’s Invel Real Estate, Arab firms like Jermyn Street as well as state investments from the Persian Gulf.

In a separate report, the Wall Street Journal stated that these foreign investors have bought around $1.58 billion worth of properties in the country in the past 18 months.

“Hines believes that Greece is transforming and that the real-estate sector will require significant foreign investment,” Michael J.G. Topham, chief executive of Europe for Hines, said of the Hines deal in an email interview with the Journal. “It’s a difficult market but we feel that there are opportunities worth pursuing.”

Strong interest from investors has been seen for properties in the Greek islands, particularly in the Ionian Islands and Create. TheMoveChannel.com data showed that from September 2013 to August 2014, Google searches from overseas realtors have risen tremendously. 45 percent of the searches were for Crete, according to GreekReporter.com.

When buying island real estate is not an option, foreign buyers settled with properties in either Athens or Attica, GreekReporter.com said.

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