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The Wall Street Journal Featured GreekPropertyExchange’s New TV Show, Hellenic Home Hunting, on the Front Page

Date: 21.02.2013 / The Wall Street Journal / By STEFANOS CHEN and NEKTARIA STAMOULI / Comments(0)
The Wall Street Journal

Manhattan, New York – February 21st, 2013 - GreekPropertyExchange.com (Greek Property Exchange) – Greece and Cyprus’ top real estate and property website – was featured on the front page of the internationally-recognized newspaper, the Wall Street Journal. Featured in the Thursday edition of the print newspaper and online, GreekPropertyExchange.com and its founder, Georgios Stroumboulis, was highlighted for the recent achievement of creating and producing the new television show dedicated to the Greek real estate market, called Hellenic Home Hunting, and having it broadcasted on the international Greek television network, Antenna Satellite (ANT1).
 
The article, titled: This Greek Reality TV Show Eschews a Grecian Formula, was written by journalists Stefanos Chen and Nektaria Stamouli. To read the full article online, click here.
 


 
This Greek Reality TV Show Eschews a Grecian Formula
Prices Are Low, but Cash-Strapped Locals Won't See 'Hellenic Home Hunting'
 
By STEFANOS CHEN and NEKTARIA STAMOULI
 
One morning in Athens, George Stroumboulis huddled with Greek network television executives about his reality show starring home buyers looking for bargains in crisis-battered Greece. The show, "Hellenic Home Hunting," follows jet-setting prospects touring homes in search of the perfect pied-à-terre or villa. Filmed in English with Greek subtitles, it is one of the first shows of its kind for the network, which had yet to test the house-hunting niche already popular in the U.S.
 
But there is a hitch: It isn't being shown in Greece.
 
"Greeks in Greece don't care about it," Mr. Stroumboulis, a 31-year-old Canadian marketer, who is of Greek heritage, said during a January visit to New York. The show made its debut early this month on Greek TV network Antenna in North America, most of Europe and Australia.
 
The show spotlights a stumbling block for the Greek housing recovery: Most locals lack the means to capitalize on bargain prices. With home prices falling roughly 40% since the Greek housing market's peak in 2008, prices are expected to continue to drop at least through the first half of this year, according to the Hellenic Association of Realtors. Some agents say price cuts can run as deep as 60% to 70%.
 
Mr. Stroumboulis says that selling prime real estate to foreigners isn't the same as selling out. He and his crew wore T-shirts throughout the filming that read, "Greece is not for sale, but its real estate is!"
 
Reactions were mixed. During filming, onlookers at Athens's famous protest site, Syntagma Square, seemed understanding, if a bit guarded, he said, and interested most of all in getting their own homes featured on the show.
 
"When it's lowball [offers] from Greeks within Greece, they're insulted, but when it's foreigners, we entertain offers," he said. Mr. Stroumboulis has never lived in Greece, but like many second- and third-generation Greeks living abroad, he sees the show as an effort to help the homeland while getting a good deal.
 
Finding a dream villa is one thing. But buying it is another matter.
 
"All the foreigners are hesitant, because, on the one hand, they think Greeks are con artists, and on the other hand, the bureaucracy is chaotic," said George Moutzouris, an agent on Lesbos, an island in the Aegean Sea.
 
Still, perceptions haven't stopped some foreign buyers. Helen Robinson, a 61-year-old manager of a cattle ranch in Australia's North Queensland, said she briefly lived in Greece in the 1960s before political tumult forced her Greek father to move the family out of the country. Now she is looking to buy a four-bedroom villa near her father's village in southern Lesbos for €255,000, or about $340,000. Four years ago, the same home would have cost €100,000 more, said listing agent Dimitra Balkizas, who guide.
 
Ms. Robinson on the show.
 
For those acquainted with reality shows of this sort, there are the typical tableaux: choosy buyers with picky criticisms perusing home after home for the perfect fit. But in the Greek market, there are some twists. In one episode, after commenting on the typical gripes about bedroom size in a contemporary home on Lesbos, Ms. Robinson turns to her agent, bemused: "The other thing that slightly worries me is the ruins, for want of a better word," she says, referring to an ancient-looking stone wall in disrepair in an adjacent lot. That, too, can be remedied, the agent says—the neighbor is willing to sell his plot.
 
"Hellenic Home Hunting" also followed Sudha Nair-Iliades, 43, a magazine publisher, on her house hunt. She moved to Greece about 12 years ago with her husband, Stephane Iliades, 55, a third-generation Greek who works in private equity. Neither of them had lived in Greece before working there, but Ms. Nair-Iliades said she was taken by Athens's energy. "I like the craziness and the anarchy of it as well, which reminds me a little bit of living at home," in her native India, she joked.
 
A longtime renter, she and her family recently closed on a roughly 1,300-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment in Palaio Faliro, a suburb in the south of the city. The eight-floor building, tall for Athens, overlooks the Port of Piraeus and the island of Aegina. The view is what sold Ms. Nair-Iliades, she said, but she also "fell for" the fireplace—a not very common feature in the temperate island nation. Much of the area was redeveloped around the 2004 Olympics, she said, and has many pluses, like a nearby promenade for long walks by the water. Other residents in the building include Spanish and Greek-American families, at least one of which is using the home as an investment property, she said.
 
Real-estate agent Pia Vafiadou, who isn't on the show, says a slightly larger home in the area now sells for about €450,000, down from almost €1 million four years ago.
 
The show has backers at the network. It is a welcome addition, especially with the dearth of programming now being produced in the country, says Leda Papachatzi, a programming manager at the network. And it is a chance to dispel some popular myths about Greeks.
 
"The problem in Greece is not foreigners—we're not racist," she said. "Of course, we welcome foreigners."
 
Ms. Nair-Iliades agrees. After raising two young children who speak French, Greek and English, and learning to speak Greek herself, she says she has never in her 12 years in the city felt unwelcome in Athens. "It's a country that depends so much on tourism, they actually appreciate the fact that we love it enough to buy," she said.
 
Write to Stefanos Chen at stefanos.chen@wsj.com and Nektaria Stamouli at nektaria.stamouli@dowjones.com
 
A version of this article appeared February 21, 2013, on page A1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: This Greek Reality TV Show Eschews a Grecian Formula.
 




http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324900204578286003155941848.html

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