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50 Greek Islands go on sale

Agios Athanasios island for sale

Wealthy lovers of holidays in Greece have the opportunity to buy their own private Greek Island in the next few months.

A large number of private Greek islands are coming onto the property market, although prospective buyers may have to jump through a few legal hurdles before they can call them their own.

At the latest count, around 50 private Greek Islands are expected to come on the property market so far this year, including one off the coast of Kefalonia, another in the Saronic Gulf near Athens and several more in the Aegean Sea.

And with prices starting at one million euros, island buyers will need deep pockets to acquire their dream holiday island getaway in Greece.

Real estate dealers expect the biggest personal interest to come from the Arab world but corporate buyers may also be looking to snap up islands as property investments.

Islands in the Ionian Sea are likely to be the most popular with potential purchasers. Not only do they boast beautiful landscapes but have close links to the mainland and across the Adriatic sea to the coast of Italy.

Recent political instability, the fall in the value of the Euro against other currencies and the increasing number of Greek islands on the market will tempt potential buyers who could be tempted to haggle for a better bargain.

The island sales come against a background of falling property prices in Greece in general where prices, even of whole islands, has dropped around 40% in the past few years, helping to put Greek islands among the cheapest worldwide per square kilometre.

But buyers still face an uphill task in acquiring land rights even if they put in the highest bid. Greece's labyrinthine property laws can tax even the best legal minds and buyers may need to put signatures on more than 30 permits before they can take legal ownership.

Some permits can take months, even years, to acquire. Permits from the Greek Forest Service and from the Archaeological Service are notoriously difficult to get cleared, with extensive surveys and ecological assessments to be carried out first.

On the bright side, new laws give successful buyers of real estate worth more than €250,000 an automatic residence permit for five years, not only for the buyer but for other family members as well.

Among the more interesting islands for sale are the islet of Gaia in the Ionian Sea, around 17 hectares, with an asking price of €3 million and touted as a 'perfect millionaire's playground — an idyllic paradise surrounded by calm, crystal clear waters.'

Also in the Ionian is the islet of Nissos Makri on sale at €13.5 million, rather more expensive but you do get almost 100 hectares and it comes with full planning consent for a five star hotel or several luxury holiday villas.

Another Greek Island likely to arouse interest are in the Saronic Gulf, only a 30 minute speedboat ride from Athens but with a €35 million price tag.

Also close to Athens is the 26 hectare islet of Tragonissi in the Peloponnese, but owners won't even say how much they want — price on request is all they will say for 'one of the ems of the Sarokinos'.

One of the cheapest is Agios Athanasios, just over a hectare (under three acres) for €1.5 million but it sits in the Gulf of Corinth, near Delphi and is scattered with olives and pines and has a small sandy beach.

One of the priciest is a large island of Echinadon in the Ionian Sea, between Lefkas and Ithaka, on sale for the princely asking price of €45 million.

This Greek Island comes with dramatic white cliffs, seas caves, a natural harbour and some sand and pebble beaches. It also boasts a house, a church and even a goatherd who rows over every few days to tend the island's herd of goats.

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