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Greece Among Highest in Europe for Vacant Houses

Athens Acropolis from Plaka night view
Night View of Athens’ Acropolis as seen from Plaka.. Credit: Flickr / Thierry Massonth CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED

Greece has one of the highest rates of vacant houses in Europe, according to a report by the Eteron Institute for Research and Social Change.

Vacant houses in Greece are mostly concentrated in large urban centers, the research highlights, with vacant buildings and houses being a “major deterioration factor in urban districts and a significant factor in the devaluation of existing urban resources that could be used to address wider social needs.”

Vacant Houses in Greece May Have Social Value

According to Eteron, the vacancy issue is of particular concern for Greece. Based on the report, “Greece historically has a large surplus of residential and other real estate properties while at the same time has no social housing stock and no mechanisms for social housing production…the utilization of vacant real estate could be a key pillar for the development of social housing policy and for addressing the acute housing problems faced by the population both in large urban centers as well as in smaller towns and settlements.”

The report goes on to say that vacant buildings in Greece are being underused relevant to the social benefits they could bring: “Although there are policy examples and available resources that could be allocated for the utilization of the vacant building stock in social terms, in Greece there has not been [such] a systematic exploitation…either at the level of individual buildings and apartments or within the context of comprehensive neighborhood redevelopments.”

Figures From the 2011 Census

According to data compiled by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) during the 2011 census, from a total of 6,371,901 “normal dwellings,” 897,968 empty houses not being used for rent, sale, or demolition, were listed.

This figure corresponds to fourteen percent of houses. The data further showed that the total number of vacant houses, including vacation homes and secondary abodes, was 2,249,813, or thirty-five percent of the country’s total housing provision.

The Eteron report explains that the data conveys the geographical differentiation of the amount of housing that can be found between urban centers—mainly Athens and Thessaloniki, but also popular tourist areas and some abandoned rural areas. According to the publication, only an insignificant portion of the vacant properties across the country is owned by the government.

According to the report, Ministry of Labour data (2017), show that “social security institutions own about 1,120 buildings across Greece, 49 percent of which are vacant. Similarly, a large percentage of properties owned by the Ministry of Finance (bequests, foreclosures, unknown), municipalities, or foundations and other legal entities of public or private law, are vacant.”

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