Greece’s coalition leaders agreed on Thursday to allow banks to foreclose on some homes from next year but under criteria that will see no more than 15,000 properties repossessed because owners are not able to keep up with repayments.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos agreed to move forward with plans that will see a moratorium on foreclosures, which was introduced in 2009 and renewed each year after that, being partially lifted. The ban applies to primary residences worth up to 200,000 euros.
Under the plans discussed at the meeting, in which Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis took part, only 2 percent of homeowners who have been protected from repossessions so far would be affected by the change.
Sources told Kathimerini that in cooperation with Greek banks, the Finance Ministry will be able to pinpoint which homeowners have been taking advantage of the moratorium by splitting larger mortgages into ones that are smaller than 200,000 euros and into other types of loans in order to avoid having their property seized. The ministry will also check on what deposits homeowners have and whether they are genuinely unable to meet their monthly repayments.
It is estimated this will lead to 12,000 to 15,000 homes being repossessed and auctioned off, while the remaining 98 percent of properties will enjoy protection for another year.
“The main residences of socially vulnerable citizens and those who cannot pay their loans because of the crisis will be totally protected,” said Samaras after the meeting, without revealing details of what the government is planning. “This is not under negotiation, period.”
Venizelos said few people would be affected by the decision to foreclose on some homes.
“The information I have shows that there is not a problem,” he said. “There are very few tricksters, who without really being vulnerable have hidden behind those who need protection,” said the PASOK leader.