"Tourism is pushing construction activity in the Southern Aegean," declares a headline on the Greek Guru property blog. The implication being, of course, that some holidaymakers are so taken by Greece that they end up never leaving and / or buying a home so they can return time and again.
Among the country’s many sun-dappled isles, Mykonos tops the list when it comes to inquiries by those looking for a second home, especially in the luxury category. About 30 per cent of the island’s permanent residents are foreigners. Of these, interest is at an all-time high from the Middle East, with Lebanon, the UAE and Egypt among the top 10 non-Greek nationalities to buy property on Mykonos, according to Nicolas Mugni, founder of Demeures de Grece. The Greece Sotheby’s International Realty outpost, meanwhile, reported a 220 per cent rise in transactions from 2017 to 2018, with the first six months of this year seeing the highest volume.
Investor sentiment aside, the lure of owning a holiday home on a Mediterranean island – with its postcard-perfect sandy beaches (many others in Greece are pebbled), turquoise waters, cobbled alleyways and panoramic views – is unparalleled. While island living can sometimes feel monotonous or cloistered, in Mykonos you’re never too far away from the action. Not only is it easily accessible from Athens – by air and water – but it’s also known for its bustling vibe (and all-night parties), high-profile visitors (dancers and DJs alike) and fine-dining restaurants (including Buddha-Bar and Hakkasan offshoot Ling Ling).
For all its reputation as a party hub, though, the island has a private, serene side that one can retreat to and emerge from as the mood strikes. From the tree-lined village of Ano Mera and hilly Elia to the hidden beaches of Fokos and Myrsini, and the little Maritime Museum, Mykonos certainly has some charmingly quiet pockets.
Most of its luxury homes, for example, are in areas such as Tourlos, a coastal village that's three kilometres from Mykonos town; the wind-sheltered Agios Ioannis; and the posh Agios Lazaros community.
Similar properties in fellow Spanish contender Ibiza are about 40 per cent more expensive, as are residences in St Tropez in France’s Cote d’Azur region.
Luxury homes on the Mykonos market
So what does a luxury home look like in Mykonos? The four developers The National contacted have among them 800 properties on sale on the island at the moment, each more confusing to choose from than the other for the magnetic pull they exert on even the most casual browser.
Greece Sotheby’s International Realty lists Grandeur as its most impressive Mykonian property, and it’s easy to see why. The eight-bedroom, nine-bathroom villa has a living area of 952 square metres, while the land size is almost four times that, at 4,200sqm. An infinity pool overlooks the island’s new port and the waters of the Aegean, as do a pergola-covered terrace and Jacuzzi area that comes with an in-built barbecue. Within, beamed ceilings, a palette of cream and light brown, and floor-to-ceiling windows bring the outdoors in, as does a sea-facing gymnasium. Grandeur is available for a guide price of about €10.8 million (Dh44.5m).
At €3.8m, the natural theme is also in evidence at Sunset Sessions, a 458sqm property that lies within a grand gated complex. The flat-roofed, cube-shaped house, which has eight bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, has a long sun deck, bar-adorned infinity pool, partially covered verandas and a garden. An independent studio offers an extra measure of privacy, while Psarou beach is within walking distance.
If it's a smaller home you're in the market for, consider Town Elegance. The rustic-chic 200sqm home is done up in the traditional Cycladic style, and has three en-suite bedrooms, a cosy living room and garden terrace, and lies a few metres away from Mykonos Town. It's on the market through Greece Sotheby's International Realty for €2.9m.
“The Cycladic design is not only aesthetically pleasant, but also easy to maintain,” says the firms’s managing partner Savvas Savvaidis, adding: “Whitewashed exterior walls, cement floors and minimal interior design are all prevalent among homes in Mykonos, as they require little maintenance and can withstand heavy use. While some properties do have more elaborate and detailed interiors, owners typically choose modern and laid-back furniture.”
Over at Christie’s International Real Estate, a €3.5m villa with five bedrooms, which goes simply by the name Beachfront Luxury, stands out for its overarching views of the Aegean all the way to the islands of Delos, Syros and Tinos, which you can enjoy from an L-shaped pool. The interior is island-living personified, with its broad-planked wooden floors, local stone panelling and whitewashed walls.
Local property agency Demeures de Grece (or Mansions of Greece) lists a private villa in Agios Lazaros, one of the richest residential areas in Mykonos. The 4,000 sqm landscaped plot houses a 600sqm, six-bedroom house that comes with the quintessential terrace-pool-garden combination, plus bespoke furniture from Bali.
The agency’s Villa Dolce Vita, meanwhile, is designed with privacy in mind. Situated on the island’s quietest beach, Agrari, the property is surrounded by a natural amphitheatre of hills, and is constructed like a complex of four independent buildings. It has a main house, pool house, guest house and caretaker’s quarters, spread across 600sqm of living space on 9,380sqm of land.
If it’s the typical blue-and-white Mykonian facade that appeals to you, complete with an airy open bedroom, look to a residence listed simply as MK0417 with Algean Property. The four-bedroom, 390sqm villa is set on 1,800sqm of private land overlooking Lia Bay, and includes an infinity pool, three sitting terraces and an independent beach house.
A second covetable Algean Property offering is located above the sandy Elia beach. Residence MK04163 comes with a full-sized swimming pool, grass-carpeted terraces, a stone bar, cheery open-plan kitchen, four bedrooms, two dining areas and three outdoor sitting areas, all neatly spread over 160sqm. Demeures lists its properties as price upon request, while Algean estimates its luxury villas go for between €6,500 and €8,500 per square metre.
As is evident from this selection, there’s a wide range of residences at various price points to be had across Mykonos, based on the number of rooms, living areas and amenities you seek.
So what’s the catch?
So what’s the catch? For one, Greek banks are not yet offering mortgages to foreign home buyers, a scenario estate agents hope will change soon. “Right now, most [foreigners] are cash buyers or with a mortgage secured from their country of origin,” says Demeures’s Mugni. “This is limiting the growth of property appreciation.”
Paperwork, too, quadruples when one is looking at an overseas investment – and the country requires buyers to produce a Greek Tax Identification Number, which is issued by local tax authorities. “The process is straightforward,” says Savvaidis, “but a power of attorney is convenient in most cases. It will save time as the issuance of the tax number can be easily arranged by the buyers’ lawyer.”
George Elias Eliades, managing partner at Algean Properties, adds: “The presence of a lawyer throughout the transaction process is strongly suggested, as they will help in all matters concerning the property’s legal due diligence and notary diligence. Finally, a technical due diligence is also a must, to make sure the property and its features are as [claimed] on paper.”
ROI and rental opportunities on Mykonos
Once you have gone through the real estate rigmarole, though, owning your own home in Mykonos brings with it both a healthy investment and memorable holiday opportunities.
Yannis Ploumis is the managing director of Ploumis Sotiropoulos, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, and, in his experience, “100 per cent of the properties we sold in Mykonos in 2018 were to those wanting a second residence”. However, Algean Property’s Eliades says: “Prior to Greece’s economic crisis in 2008, most buyers were end users. From 2013, most interested parties are buying properties in Mykonos for investment purposes as the combination of affordable pricing compared to competitive destinations in the Mediterranean coupled with high rental yields have contributed in making the island the top destination within the holiday home market.”
The average return on investment is between seven per cent and eight per cent, while both Mugni and Savvaidis agree that a high-end villa can claim a daily rent of up to €2,500. These figures are at once indicative of a healthy ROI and lucrative rental opportunities, which is a win-win for both investors and home owners who want to live in Mykonos for parts of the year.
So, the next time you visit sunny Mykonos, don’t be just another tourist.