Tips and advice on buying a property in Greece

Buying a property in Greece should never be entered into carelessly, perhaps this is even more so when you are considering buying a home or if you buy a comercial property in Greece or the Greek islands – whether it is for taking up permanent residence, as a holiday home or for investment purposes.

It is all too easy to be seduced by a beautiful rural or seaside setting on a Greek island or on the mainland and be tempted to throw caution to the wind in order to try and buy your dream home as quickly as possible. However, you should enter into any purchase in exactly the same way as you would if you were buying a new property in your own country,

The first key to purchasing is preparation. If you love the idea of owning a place in Greece but are unsure how to go about it and what the property prices are like there is lots of information available via internet sites, magazines and specialist estate agencies.

Once you have settled on a location you should make sure that you fully investigate the island/area and the property location to ensure it satisfies all your needs. The best advice is to book a week holidays in Greece in the area you are considering to buy. Do as much research as you can before you arrive.

Set some real objectives for your first visit. If possible try to contact several agents and arrange as many appointments as you can before you get there. Don’t rely on only one agent, there are many real estate agents almost every where. If you like the area then you could arrange to rent some accommodation at a later date to stay in while you are looking for properties in Greece. There are usually local agencies which can help you with this as well as many signs around that advertise rooms or apartments to rent.

You will then have somewhere to stay until you have sorted out the finer details for your potential property.
This also gives you the chance to establish some good contacts and possibly make friends in the area who may be able to give you useful advise about your intended purchase. Go on several viewing trips before settling on a house and try to visit the area in both high and low season. Take several passport-sized photographs and photocopies of your passport or other ID – you’ll need them for opening bank accounts and so on.

Don’t try to view too many plots, or properties in a single day – two in the morning and two in the afternoon is plenty. Photograph every plot/property from different angles and take notes, writing down any relevant details of each one. Shortlist about four or five plots/properties. Revisit them, spending time simply sitting and contemplating the view. If possible walk to the local amenities and chat to the locals and any neighbours, and get to know the area. Buying a home in the sun should be a dream come true.
However worry and stress can shatter that dread if things don’t go smoothly.

Greek real estate market

The Greek real estate market is a dynamic and multifaceted environment that offers diverse opportunities for potential property buyers. Understanding the nuances of this market is crucial for anyone considering investing in property in Greece, whether for personal use, vacation purposes, or as an investment. Here’s a more detailed look into various aspects that define the Greek real estate market.

Historically, the Greek real estate market experienced significant fluctuations due to the economic crisis that began in 2009. Property values plummeted, and the market was sluggish for several years. However, recent years have shown signs of recovery, with stabilized prices and increasing interest from foreign investors, particularly in the wake of improved economic conditions and governmental incentives aimed at attracting overseas buyers.

The market’s attractiveness is bolstered by relatively low prices compared to other Mediterranean countries, coupled with a high potential for rental yields, especially in tourist-heavy areas. Islands such as Crete, Rhodes, and Corfu, along with urban centers like Athens and Thessaloniki, are particularly popular. These locations offer not only natural beauty and historical significance but also robust tourist infrastructures that make them ideal for short-term rentals.

Understanding regional variations within the Greek real estate market is essential. The market in Athens, particularly in the city center and southern suburbs, is driven by both tourism and business, making it attractive for both short-term and long-term rental strategies. In contrast, the Peloponnese, Crete, and other islands may offer better opportunities for those looking for vacation homes or retirement properties, thanks to their scenic landscapes and quieter environments.

The islands are also subject to their own market dynamics. For example, Santorini and Mykonos command high property prices due to their international fame and high demand among tourists. In contrast, lesser-known islands might offer more affordable options but with less potential for significant rental income.

Certain areas have been identified as investment hotspots, particularly with the introduction of the Golden Visa program, which offers residency permits to non-EU investors who invest a minimum of €250,000 in real estate. This program has particularly boosted interest in the luxury market segment and has led to a flurry of development projects aimed at attracting foreign capital.

For instance, Athens’ coastline along the Riviera is undergoing transformations with numerous luxury developments and renovations enhancing its appeal. Similarly, Thessaloniki’s real estate market is benefiting from cultural, infrastructural, and educational investments, making it an increasingly appealing option for both domestic and international investors.

The Greek economy’s status significantly influences the real estate market. Economic stability, improving employment rates, and growing investor confidence positively impact property values and market vitality. Additionally, Greece’s tourism industry plays a crucial role in the real estate sector. A robust tourism season translates directly into higher demand for rental properties, driving up potential rental yields for property owners.

Moreover, the Greek government has implemented several reforms intended to attract foreign investment into the real estate sector, including tax incentives and streamlined property purchase processes. These reforms have made the property buying process more transparent and accessible, thereby increasing the market’s attractiveness to international buyers.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations

The process of buying a house in Greece requires navigating several legal and regulatory hurdles. First and foremost, it is crucial to secure a Greek tax identification number (AFM), which is necessary for all transactions. Non-EU residents might also need to obtain a residence permit if they plan to stay in Greece for extended periods.
Hiring Professional Help

Given the complexities of the local real estate laws, it is advisable to hire a local real estate agent and a lawyer. A knowledgeable real estate agent can provide valuable insights into different neighborhoods, price trends, and investment opportunities. Meanwhile, a lawyer can help with the legalities of the transaction, ensuring that the property does not have any encumbrances or legal issues that could complicate the purchase.

The Buying Process

The property buying process in Greece can be broken down into several steps. Initially, once a property is selected, a reservation agreement is typically signed, and a deposit is made to secure the property. This is followed by a thorough check of the property’s legal documents by the buyer’s lawyer to confirm there are no outstanding debts, liens, or legal claims.

Subsequent to the legal clearance, a notary public is engaged to prepare the purchase deed. The notary plays a crucial role in the Greek property buying process as they are responsible for drafting the contract, verifying identities and legal statuses, and ensuring that the transaction adheres to all legal norms.
Financial Considerations

When it comes to financial aspects, aside from the property price, buyers should also budget for additional costs such as notary fees, legal fees, transfer taxes, and real estate agent fees. These can amount to approximately 7-10% of the property price. It’s also important to consider ongoing costs like property taxes and maintenance expenses.

Challenges of buying a house or property in Greece

One of the primary challenges in the Greek real estate market is navigating the bureaucratic and legal systems. The process can often be slow and requires a number of different documents and approvals. For instance, obtaining a Greek tax identification number (AFM) is a prerequisite for any property transaction and involves dealing with the Greek tax authorities. Moreover, potential legal complexities surrounding property rights and the accuracy of land registry records can necessitate thorough checks, which need expert legal assistance.

Another significant challenge is the issue of property inheritance laws and zoning regulations, which can be quite complex in Greece. These laws may affect property ownership rights and can complicate transactions, especially in rural areas where land division and ownership might not be clearly defined according to modern standards. As a result, it’s possible for buyers to encounter disputes or claims on property after purchase, highlighting the need for comprehensive legal due diligence.

Financially, while the cost of buying property in Greece might be lower compared to other European destinations, the additional costs can accumulate. Transfer taxes, notary fees, legal fees, real estate agent fees, and VAT can all increase the total cost of purchasing property. These fees can sometimes be overlooked by new buyers who are not familiar with the process. Additionally, maintaining a property in Greece can also bring about its own expenses, including regular property taxes and potential costs for renovations and upkeep to meet certain aesthetic or structural standards, especially in historic or traditional areas.

For non-EU citizens, there are extra hurdles such as obtaining a residence permit if they wish to stay in Greece for long periods. The Greek government has facilitated this process somewhat with the Golden Visa program, which grants a residence permit to those who invest significantly in real estate. However, the application process for this can also be daunting and requires careful planning and understanding of the legal framework.

Cultural and language barriers can also pose challenges for foreign buyers who are not fluent in Greek or familiar with Greek business practices. The importance of personal relationships and face-to-face interactions in Greek business can mean that transactions may not always proceed at the pace foreigners expect, potentially leading to frustration.

Moreover, the physical condition of properties, especially older ones and those on the islands, may require significant investment to upgrade or maintain. Issues like seismic compliance and energy efficiency need particular attention, as many of the available properties might not meet modern standards without renovation.

Despite these challenges, buying property in Greece can be a highly rewarding investment both personally and financially. With careful planning, understanding of the local market, and the right professional assistance, many of the obstacles can be navigated successfully. The key is to approach the process with patience and thorough preparation, ensuring that all legal and financial aspects are handled carefully to make the most of your investment

Cultural and Lifestyle Factors

Buying a home in Greece is not just a financial investment but also a lifestyle choice. The Greek lifestyle, characterized by its relaxed pace, Mediterranean diet, and warm, social community life, is incredibly rewarding. However, potential buyers should also be prepared for the bureaucratic challenges that might arise, typical of Mediterranean countries.
Long-Term Considerations

For those looking to buy property as an investment, the Greek real estate market offers significant potential for rental income, especially in tourist-favored areas. The government’s Golden Visa program, which provides a residency permit in return for real estate investments exceeding €250,000, is an added incentive for non-EU investors.