31 March 2016

The fruits of being an estate agent - literally

I think being an estate agent in Corfu is a little different from the norm. Often, when we go out on viewings, the owners will send us on our way with all sorts of gifts of whatever is in season. At the moments it's oranges, lemons and cabbages. Soon it will be artichokes while n the summer it's salad stuff (the question would you like some lettuce usually ends up with a bag of six lettuces!)and later in the summer it might be figs, home brewed liqueur or 'spoon sweets' (small fruit preserved in jars and served to you on a spoon). Often we get given cuttings from plants or flowers, or mulberries from the trees in the village, and even more often it's eggs.  A couple of weeks ago we were given some local avocados, odd looking and oddly shaped, but delicious.

The other day we left a villa with our Russian clients looking somewhat confused as the gardener handed us two enormous bunches of green bananas and a banana plant. The bananas are currently sitting on the balcony, hopefully ripening in the sun, and we'll see if the plant comes to anything. Life is always interesting!

28 March 2016

Happy Springtime!

Yes, spring is definitely here. Flowers everywhere, trees in bloom around every corner, an absolute joy to go out and drive around the island. It always amazing to drive around (all in the course of work naturally). Different parts of the island seem to have different seasons, mimosa just losing its bloom in one place and coming into bloom a bit further up the road. Judas trees lining some roads fully flowered and on another just starting out.

Wild flowers are taking over all the ground where only a few weeks ago there were nets to collect the olives. Spring is definitely here and now we have the summer to look forward to, which always seems to come to look so quickly.

25 March 2016

Another side of 'sunny' Corfu

Normally one of the best parts of our jobs is driving around in the sunshine, admiring the gorgeous flowers - particularly at this time of year.

However there is the odd occasion when the weather doesn't perform exactly as we would wish. Last week whilst showing houses on the west coast, we happily decided to drive down to the beach. Unfortunately we had experienced some rather heavy rain so we went carefully down the track in the mud only to find this mini pond completely covering the road. 

We hovered on the edge in both cars for a few minutes then decided to venture through it - on the way to the beach I went first in my trusty Fiat Panda. A bit skiddy but I made it. Then Sarah did the same. On the way back we toyed with trying to go through the sand dunes but finally opted for the pond again - as you can see we made it, with two very muddy cars - good job we went for 4WD!

Fortunately, when three days later I was on the same track to the beach, this time in the sun, no sign of the pond, all dried up. That's Corfu.

23 March 2016


We quite often see these birds in Corfu, but it usually they fly away before providing a photo opportunity. This one was spotted just a few metres down the road yesterday, and I managed to get out of the car and take this photo before it flew off. Of course, when it did fly away, it raised its beautiful crest but it didn't give me a chance for a second photo!

21 March 2016

Changes in holiday letting regulations

Holiday letting regulations are now more flexible giving a choice of how rentals are licensed. 
The original EOT licence still exists, where basically you declare your holiday let as a business, and declare the income on your annual tax return, but you can also deduct operating expenses and works carried out on the property. Because it is a business you might be liable to pay TEBE, the Greek equivalent of National Insurance in the UK, but your accountant can advise you on this. 

The alternative method simply requires registration with the tax office and you pay a lower tax rate (previously 10% but this may increase for 2016) with no National Insurance liability, but you can't deduct any running expenses. The newer option is mainly aimed at people who let for just a few weeks each summer, rather than those who let for the majority of the season.

The rental market is increasing each year, following the popularity of self catering family holidays, and although competition is keen, nice comfortable properties in good areas are always in demand in every price bracket.

17 March 2016

Where better to spend your time than Corfu?

Just read a nice article from the Huffington Post on buying property in Greece

'Or where better to spend your time than Corfu, an island occupied by the Venetians for 400 years ...

While agents say that the quantity of prime property sales on Corfu has dipped since Greece’s economy entered “intensive care” in 2009, prices today look steady, underpinned by the substantial rents generated by high-end property on the island.'

Which of course is exactly the case. Many of our buying clients are surprised that prices haven't dropped more, or that there is a wide variation - some sellers will make substantial price reductions and others won't - and of course one of the major criteria is whether the property is a rental property giving a good rental return. Looking into other sections of the market, it isn't just high end properties giving good rental returns, many of the mid to lower end properties can generate gross incomes of 8% - 10% making them good investment opportunities. Add to that the changes in tourism rental licence regulations, offering various options, then many holiday homes also become letting possibilities.

11 March 2016

Still here

Well, its been a strange winter but we are still here; Greece is still here, still sunny, still as illogical as ever, but STILL HERE; and people are still holidaying, renting houses, buying houses, building houses, renovating houses, all perfectly normally. 
We know times are dire;  in so many ways it used to be that the economy (or not) was our main concern, now added to that is the plight of so many refugees. Whilst they have nothing to do with us directly, since we are hundreds of miles away from any of their points of entry into Europe (a bit like people landing in Cornwall and us living in the north of Scotland), we can’t help but be affected both emotionally and practically.

People all over Greece have surpassed their natural hospitality with massive amounts of help to as many people as they can manage. The people living on the most affected islands, like Lesbos and Kos, have performed miracles, and generally the Greek people have risen to the occasion giving as much aid as they possibly can.

This blog isn’t meant to be political in any way, but personally I can’t quite understand how the rest of the EU, particularly the eastern countries seem to have fallen quite so far short in this case.