GreekPropertyExchange.com (GPE) – Greece and Cyprus’ top real estate and property website – was featured in GR Reporter News Portal on April 4, 2011 in an article titled, "Tourists Want Beaches and Good Hotels Not More Than Three Hours Drive From Airport".
GR Reporter is a recognized media portal based in Bulgaria and focusing on Greek news and content. GR Reporter publishes Greek news related to the economy, society, entertainment, media & hi-tech, and sports - making it a well rounded source for all things Greek related. In an in-depth interview featuring GPE founder, Georgios Stroumboulis, many questions were asked regarding Greece, the state of the economy, buying trends, tourist investment and more business-related questions surrounding GreekPropertyExchange.com.
When asked to describe the purpose of GreekPropertyExchange.com, Stroumboulis replied that it "is a global marketplace for Greek real estate – bringing together buyers, sellers and renters of property in Greece". He went on to say that "the property inventory in Greece continues to grow and large discounts are starting to materialize in most regions and prefectures – making the next 6 to 32 months a very promising time to buy and rent in Greece".
Georgios remains optimistic about Greece overcoming the economic challenges at hand. He reinstates in his interview that if he "were to listen to all the negativity surrounding Greece, the economy and real estate in general, GreekPropertyExchange.com would have never been created in the first place. You can’t turn on the television, open a newspaper, read a blog or listen to the radio without some element of doom and gloom tainting the message".
Tourists want beaches and good hotels not more than three hours drive from the airport
By Victoria Mindova
Georgios Stroumboulis is а young and ambitious man. He has Greek blood running in his veins, no matter that he lives across the ocean. He impressed GRReporter’s team with his inspiring story of how the difficulties to find a good property in Greece have made him develop a brand new Internet portal connecting buyers and sellers of properties in Greece around the world.
His profound love for Greece and his sincere desire to contribute and to make it a better place, combined with his skillful business acumen have created the portal GreekPropertyExchange.com. The story of Georgios Stroumboulis proves that no crisis means a deadlock and that the difficulties inspire rather than break the brave and ambitious.
How did you end up being in the real estate industry and can you make a brief analysis of the positives and negatives of being a property owner in Greece?
Most business ideas come from a personal experience where you spot a need or a gap in the market – GreekPropertyExchange.com was this need. I never had intentions or aspirations of working in the real estate market until I woke up one day and realized that I was working in the real estate industry. My career background is marketing, design and business – giving me the foundation to start this venture and successfully follow it through to execution. I am not a real estate professional but what we have developed are tangible marketing tools for the real estate professionals in Greece to better target international markets and make their services and properties more transparent to potential buyers and renters around the world. Owning property anywhere in the world has its pros and cons and Greece is no different. We have recently experienced the real estate bubble in the United States pop in the last couple years and this is very discouraging to the world. What we can learn from this is that people need to buy within their means, do upfront research and need to think of property as a long-term investment and not a quick return on your investment. The property inventory in Greece continues to grow and large discounts are starting to materialize in most regions and prefectures – making the next 6 – 32 months a very promising time to buy and rent in Greece.
The manifesto of GreekPropertyExchange.com is really touching and inspiring at the same time. The business is dedicated to everyone that loves Greece and wants to keep part of it in his/her heart and also has or wants to have property here. But it is my understanding that you might have had a bitter experience with the local real estate market in the past. Tell us a little bit more about that experience.
Greece is an internationally binding nation with a deep history – meaning, it is loved and visited by all ethnicities and cultures around the world. If you are fortunate enough to visit Greece on a regular basis or have ever vacationed there in the past, you can understand how incredible your experience is – beaches, weather, food, culture, lifestyle… and the list goes on. Once you cross the vacation chasm and have to deal with the politics, legalities and everyday life, your experience can easily get tainted. That was my personal experience when trying to marry my vacation with a property search in the same visit. The property search alone was discouraging from the beginning when I was told to start by searching the yellow stickers slapped on the telephone poles throughout the city. After spending half my trip running from apartment to apartment and dealing with random agents and private sellers, I was ready to make an offer on an apartment. The process and uncertainty following that was discouraging for a Greek-Canadian with knowledge of the Greek language, I couldn’t imagine how complicated it would be for a foreigner. From that day forward, I declined the offer on the apartment and vowed to myself that I would make the process easier and more commercialized for an international audience seeking property in Greece.
Is there a lot of interest from the Greek community abroad to buy property in Greece? Who are the most active according GreekPropertyExchange.com - the buyers or the sellers?
There is enormous interest from the Greek community abroad and non-Greeks as well. To put it into perspective, GreekPropertyExchange.com receives website visitors from 104 countries around the world. We see a lot of interest coming from the United States, Canada, Australia and many European nations like Germany and the United Kingdom. We are very impressed with the amount of interest shown from the Russian market as well. I am fortunate enough to interact daily with the Greek agents and developers from all over Greece and when talking with them, we often hear that Russians are helping stimulate the economy more and more – making the future a little more promising.
Which part of Greece do you consider the most attractive? Why?
This is a difficult question because the destination landscape is very fluid and shifting on a regular basis. We see a lot of interest for the popular/ commercialized destinations – including the Cyclades and Dodekanisia but we also see a lot of interest for many beachfront destinations throughout Greece. We find that more and more tourists simply want the beach, access to good restaurants and amenities, and to be within 3 hours from the airport. This trend is really opening up the Greek real estate marketplace to regions that were never really commercialized destinations before. We now see foreigners visiting the Peloponnese region and buying up many beachfront properties, many Greek-foreigners investing in their villages throughout Greece, and the standard tourists seeking vacation rentals in the popular destinations we all are aware of – Mykonos, Santorini, Rodos, Corfu, Paros and so on. Greece has so much to offer to so many different types of tourists and visitors – that makes it very lucrative and promising from a real estate investment perspective. It is really up to the real estate professionals managing property in Greece to take advantage of interest from around the world. I also work with agents from little villages throughout Greece who are coming in contact with foreigners from far away countries – something that was very seasonal and limited before joining GreekPropertyExchange.com. Hearing this news from the GPE community is very encouraging and proves that what we are doing at GreekPropertyExchange.com is very promising and impressive for a business just over one year in existence.
You live in New York, but you have Greek blood in your veins. What does Greece mean to you?
I am a Greek-Canadian citizen, now living in New York City. Since the day I was born, the Greek culture was engrained in me, my sister and all my friends I grew up with. We all participated in cultural events and worked hard during the year in our parents businesses to be able to save money and spend a few weeks every summer in Greece, spending every last dollar we saved up. After completing a one-year internship at the European Union Business Development Center in the Ionian Islands, I knew that I wanted to be able to contribute to Greece in some way. It wasn’t until 9 years later until my opportunity presented itself and I jumped all over it. From the outside looking in, there is a lot of positive change taking place in Greece. Although it may appear as drastic measures right now, Greece will come out on top, stronger and more appealing to the international community.
Would you ever come and live here for good?
I never take for granted the opportunity that Canada and the United States has given me and my family and having the ability to maneuver between all three countries makes me very fortunate.
Greece right now is going through some tough changes. How does this situation affect your business and do you notice any withdrawal of customers in the last year?
The situation taking place in Greece is affecting the world across so many different levels. The number one thing I work to focus on with the GPE network is opportunity. If I were to listen to all the negativity surrounding Greece, the economy and real estate in general, GreekPropertyExchange.com would have never been created in the first place. You can’t turn on the television, open a newspaper, read a blog or listen to the radio without some element of doom and gloom tainting the message. Knowing the economic conditions and the shifting legislation taking place in Greece and Europe is imperative – but knowing when to filter out the remainder of the noise is crucial if we are all going to succeed. There is a lot of money around the world and people are still looking to invest and to take advantage of real opportunities. Those property agents and developers who are exposed to the world market and present themselves as professionals and as solution providers will benefit the most. We have seen exponential growth and interest from property seekers and sellers alike. Many Greeks around the world are also looking to put their property up for sale to capitalize on the growing demands coming from around the world. We have seen many interactions across the website, meetings set up, emails shared and a lot of interest generated from the GPE platform that did not exist over a year ago – making it very promising to those looking to sell.
What is GreekPropertyExchange.com, who is behind this project and what is its purpose?
GreekPropertyExchange.com (GPE) is a global marketplace for Greek real estate – bringing together buyers, sellers and renters of property in Greece. After returning from a summer vacation in Greece, I started mapping out what I envisioned as a simplified, centralized and transparent property portal to help better stimulate interactions with Greek property professionals and the world. For a year straight, I worked with my team of developers to isolate the pitfalls of the Greek real estate marketplace and developed strategies to help bridge those gaps. Following that year, we officially launched GreekPropertyExchange.com at the Property 2010 Real Estate show in Athens, Greece in January 2010 – and have seen incredible growth ever since.
In the middle of March this year, GreekPropertyExchange.com held an event here in Athens that gathered professionals from the real estate industry from all over Greece and the world. Tell us a little bit about this event and the results.
We hosted an intimate networking event for the GreekPropertyExchange.com community to come together during the Property 2011 show in Athens. I wanted to select a venue for the agents, property developers, property lawyers and other related professionals to come together for a few hours and interact as a community. At the end of the day, everyone is looking out for themselves and trying to make ends meet for their business, but for those 3 hours, we all came together to network, shares ideas, address concerns and really see how we can move collectively to attract more investment in Greek property from around the world. The event was actually covered by many Greek media outlets, including a national television interview. This helped in communicating to the industry that GreekPropertyExchange.com and its approach to market is becoming a viable tool for those looking to buy, sell and rent real estate in Greece. Although I live in New York City, travelling to Athens and building stronger ties with the agents, developers and media is part of the business plan. Overall, I remain very optimistic and enthusiastic at the opportunity and pressure I put on myself and my team to deliver for the Greek real estate market. At the end of the day, only real investment in Greece will justify our existence and what I set out to do from day one.