ATHENS – While many Greeks in the Diaspora are wringing their hands in despair over what’s happening to their homeland during a crushing economic crisis, young George Stroumboulis of Toronto has been busy making his mark as an entrepreneur bringing together buyers and sellers and renters of property in Greece and showing off its good side. Stroumboulis, 31, even got the attention of Canada’s Ambassador to Greece, Robert Peck – whose wife is from Patra in western Greece.
Peck hosted a reception at his home here for Stroumboulis and members of the press as well as a distinguished list of guests and said, “A lot of people think not much good is happening here and we want to help show what it.” Stroumboulis was only in Greece for a few days and to attend the March 30 event where he worked the room like a pro and displayed the kind of enthusiasm the country has been lacking as people fret for their future. He said he decided to do something about it.
“Greece has always been a destination even if you had nothing to do with the country,” he said, adding that his target was to go far beyond the Diaspora and to people around the room who believe there are opportunities to buy property and homes in Greece. “Now it’s attainable and the prices are coming down in a lot of markets and people are just waiting to see what the bottom is. They’re expecting it to fall further,” he said. Stroumboulis thanked Peck and said the Ambassador, “loves Greece as much as Greeks do and wanted to help the country and showcase we do. His perspective is that Canadians love Greece and want to help out.”
With his proud father standing nearby, Stroumboulis outlined to the audience his ambitions and how his business, www.greekpropertyexchange.com works. He said it has more than 1,400 members, a list of 7,000 properties worth more than $5 billion and gets 15,000 visitors a month from 120 countries and has had more than 2.7 million views, giving Greece some good publicity along the way for a change instead of the constant images of protests, riots and strikes over the austerity measures that have come as conditions of continued international aid to bail out the country’s floundering economy. Stromboulis said he’s been able to showcase Greek properties to a new legion of prospective buyers from around the work, including new markets. “It’s not just your typical Greek-Canadaian-Australian-American market,” he said. “A lot of Russians now are looking and people are waiting to see what’s going on with the country,” he added.
Stromboulis has been living abroad for much of the last 12 years, in France and Ireland and has settled in Manhattan with his business. “We’re doing our part to help our network communicate,” he said. “There was a lack of transparency and communication and I said there had to be an easier way for foreigners to look to see what’s available here and the best way to find the right partner and agent before they come to Greece … we tried to map out the gap in the market and see what people needed internationally and to make this portal,” aligning buyers and sellers, he said. Greek Property Exchange is a kind of one-stop clearinghouse where you can look to buy or rent homes and apartments as well as commercial real estate properties and businesses, offering photos and detailed information about each listing as well as agents and other helpful information on how to buy or rent as well as the sometimes difficult intricacies of Greek real estate dealings. The crisis has created some real bargains.
Americans, not just of Greek heritage, he said, are eager to find good property in Greece now and he said he expects to see many closings in the next year. “We put them in contact with agents here who can help them. We’re not saying it’s a smooth process or guaranteeing anything. They see the information and the contact details to deal with an agent and can post their own listing,” he described. “It’s not just for agents. There are a lot of Greeks living outside Greece who have property here and want to make it available to the international community.” After his presentation, he met with members of the media and in the audience to give more information and how GreekPropertyExchange works and to get the word out.
He said he’s working with a Greek television station to produce a show called Hellenic Home Hunting in which viewers can look at a case involving buyers from Canada as they go through the process of getting property in Greece and it is tentatively set to run in August, using local talent in Greece. “A Greek-Canadian couple comes from Toronto to Greece and meet the agent and see three potential properties and at the end of the show they make their selection,” he said. “We target markets outside of Greece. It’s not just a real estate website. We want to show Greece is an investment opportunity.” Stromboulis’ aspirations continue. His Manhattan company, www.Boulibrand.com includes free lance partners in Canada, France and India, he said, but he’s shown that Greece is where the home and heart is.