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BANKING

Greek real estate moves into catch-up mode

Greece has lagged behind the rest of the eurozone in its use of techniques to free up value in real estate loans and assets. But banks’ needs for capital should fuel securitization, and new legislation will enable public bodies to make sale and leaseback deals. Dimitris Kontogiannis reports.

No sign of a slowdown

By Dimitris Kontogiannisi

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THE GREEK REAL estate market has been buoyant for years, supported by low interest rates and double-digit growth in mortgage loans. However, residential mortgage-backed securitization has been slow to pick up. Bankers say this is likely to change as local banks seek to lower their funding costs and diversify their financing sources while loan growth remains healthy and outpaces deposit growth.

On the other hand, real estate sale and leaseback appears to be gaining ground among private sector companies and is expected to catch fire once the state gets involved, following the passage of a critical law in parliament expected in the next couple of months or so.

“The securitization of mortgages and other assets has indeed been slow in Greece but I expect it to gain steam in the years ahead as more banks get involved and loan, especially mortgage, portfolios expand,” says George Georgiou, senior manager at Alpha Bank, the country’s largest private bank.

Georgiou says only a small portion of Greek loan portfolios have been collateralized, opening the way for more asset-backed security issues.