From the Telegraph June 5 2007
Britons race for a place in the sun
Thousands of foreigners are buying up land on Greece's most southerly island. June Field reports on the chase for the best bargains.
If you like the sound of Crete, you had better get a move on. Demand for land is outstripping supply and prices are on the up. The most southerly and largest of the Greek islands has a bewitching blend of coastal and mountain scenery. Although known for its rocky terrain, the western part of the island is extremely fertile. Endless olive groves and orchards are fed by the waters of the snow-clad White Mountains. Tomatoes, avocados and exotic flowers which grow here are shipped daily to local markets all over Greece.
The island has long, hot summers and balmy winters. You can bathe in the warm Cretan seas until November. Plus there are countless blue flag beaches. Choose from fine pink sand comparable to the South Pacific, to pebbles, to a toe-scorching, black volcanic variety.
"Land is definitely in big demand here," says James Ward, who manages the Athens office of surveyors Lambert Smith Hampton. "There are already several high-end developments in progress, with more on the way."
In the past seven years, a foreign community has sprung up in north-western Crete. Locals believe the influx of northern Europeans, mostly British, has reached about 5,000. The core have settled in a pretty peninsula to the east ofthe city of Chania, known as Apokoronas.
There are a handful of traditional mountain communities like Megala Chorafia within striking distance of the sandy beach at Georgioupoli. They are easily reached via Chania international airport, a destination served by major charter airlines from UK regional airports. There are hourly, 50-minute flights to Athens.
Chania's picturesque port is surrounded by ancient monuments and has become one of the most sought after places to live.
Nottingham-born Carol Palioudakis settled here 20 years ago after falling in love with Crete.
"Property prices are on a sharp increase; we've noticed a 40 per cent rise in the past year, if it's anywhere near the sea," says Carol.
The apartment she and her husband bought a year ago has increased in value by 15 per cent.
"Also, there's been a dramatic improvement in building quality, as well as local infrastructure. We waited six years to get our first phone," she says.
However, she warns buyers to shop around before purchasing. "There has been a rash of new holiday developments built recently. The price and finish can vary greatly.
"I know of two-bedroom apartments, which were sold at €99,000 (£67,000); while other buyers paid €140,000 (£95,000) for identical ones.
"Also, agents often don't tell buyers that by law, they need to have a permit if they rent out their Greek property. A licence costs between £2,000 and £3,000," she adds. [check out our lastest information on Crete Property]
Charles McKay is one new owner "very happy" with his new seafront home in the quiet resort of Maleme. He still works in the UK, but wanted somewhere to spend time with his family.
Then they stumbled across a development of 24 apartments being built by Cybarco, while on their fourth holiday on the island.
"Our dealings with Cybarco were superb. They arranged the whole process. We'd recommend it to anyone." The McKays paid approximately £100,000 for a modern, two-bedroom maisonette of 108 square metres, with guest room, veranda and internal patio. Outside is a communal pool and a parking space. Most of the apartments have uninterrupted sea views and some have private pools. Hellenic Homes is another developer in the area, which has sold more than a hundred properties around Chania. It specialises in selling new, off-plan properties, built according to clients' designs.
Sales manager Andreas Batakis says: "Most people go for villas priced between £135,000 and £205,000; they buy off plan and add either a pool or a barbecue."
He advises foreigners to choose a location which is inhabited year-round, so you don't feel "like you're in a ghost town".
"There are only two villas left for sale on our award-winning Aegean Blue development in Kera. For £203,144, you get a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house with pool, basement and a 500-square metre garden plot," he adds. For those with a smaller budget, there are more affordable properties. About four miles inland in the village of Kefalas, you can buy a two-bedroom, two-storey house in a private plot for £149,470.
Alternatively, there are traditional style, stone-clad houses within a new development of 13 homes located within the village of Darmarohori. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom house costs £149,470 including a pool, barbecue and storeroom.
A local's guide to buying
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