ATHENS, March 15 (Xinhua) -- The number of Greeks who disclaimed inheritance of real estate property as they are unable to bear the burden of debts and relevant property taxes is on the rise during years of the debt crisis, according to data released on Wednesday.
According to Bank of Greece estimates, currently about half of the one million Greeks who have taken loans are struggling to pay their monthly installments.
Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis informed the parliament that in 2016, a total of 54,422 people refused their inheritance. According to the document submitted, in 2013 the number was 29,199, it rose to 41,388 in 2014, and 45,628 in 2015.
The fate of such properties is still unclear, as government auction programs are still very limited, said "Kathimerini" (Daily) newspaper.
Prolonged recession, high unemployment rates, tax hikes, and uncertainty over the taxation system and economic prospects, as well as the capital controls imposed in the summer of 2015 have dramatically reduced demand for real estate from Greeks since the start of the Greek debt crisis, according to a recent Bank of Greece report.
The average real estate price for residential and commercial properties in Greece has plunged by 41.3 percent since 2008, according to the report.
Currently at least 200,000 real estate properties in Greece remain unsold, representatives of the market told "Imerisia" (Quotidian) newspaper.
According to the Greek Statistics Authority ELSTAT, in 2016 barely 20,000 properties were sold. Before the debt crisis hit Greece in 2009, the average was 150,000 sales each year.
Against this backdrop, banking sector sources told "Kathimerini" that some 300,000 borrowers are at risk of having their assets seized after failing to respond to warnings of overdue debts.
Under the Greek bailout program, Greek lenders must settle one out of three bad loans by 2020, meaning non-performing loans should be reduced by some 30 billion euros (31.9 billion U.S. dollars) from the current 106.9 billion euros.