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Time to Buy Greek Real Estate?

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Back in January, the Greek culture ministry decided to open up the country’s historic landmarks to renters, starting with the Acropolis. The excuse was that the move would “facilitate access to the country’s ancient Greek ruins” and “help fund the upkeep and monitoring of sites.”

Effectively though, Greece was just broke. They still are.

Well, just as the Greek financial collapse was a boon for anyone with $2,000 and dreams of shooting a YouTube (GOOG) video in some priceless ruins, low real estate prices are starting to look very appealing to non-Greek vacationers. According to Worldcrunch, the number of vacation home inquiries on the island of Rhodes tripled over the last year.

Real estate prices are down all over Greece, as much as 50% in some areas. On Rhodes, prices have fallen up to 30% and oceanfront properties are going for remarkably low prices.

Of course, there are a few good reasons to wait before declaring Greece the new cheap vacation home capital of the world. For starters, there’s still the possibility of a Greek departure from the Eurozone that would leave new homeowners with properties valued in Drachmas.

Beyond that, Greece’s ongoing strikes have left some buyers afraid that they will have no way to get to their new house if airlines and other transportation systems are shut down. Finally, Greece lacks a functioning cadastral system, leaving property rights quite complicated.

Still, at least one party has started to invest in new vacation homes. The Greek government is looking to sell land for development in an attempt to bring down the national debt.

Before you get too excited, though, it’s important to remember another struggling country that had a big, and ultimately destructive, construction boom. Spain saw real estate prices drop 55% after its bubble burst.

Just how poor is Greece at this point? Here’s a handy graph comparing Apple’s (AAPL) market value to Greece and its PIGS partners Spain and Portugal.

Guess whose is bigger.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.