Specific steps to buying real estate property in Greece
Despite improvements regarding certain specific matters, purchasing real estate in Greece continues
to be a fairly time-consuming and bureaucratic procedure that demands the involvement of lawyers,
notaries and civil engineers. In most cases, the assistance of a specialized accountant is also
necessary, especially when the buyer is a non-Greek or an overseas resident.
advantage of all this red tape is that if the aforesaid advisers have been chosen properly, the buyer
will make a quite safe purchase without any unpleasant surprises on account of unknown
encumbrances, defects, damage, debts to third parties, town planning infringements or other hidden
drawbacks of the property, since the compulsory participation of specialists can, under normal
conditions, protect the legal and financial interests of real estate buyers in Greece.
The process of purchasing real estate in Greece involves three phases: The initial phase of choosing
the right property (I); the phase of checks, negotiations and preparation (II) and the phase of signing
the contract before a notary public and its registration at the local Land Registry Office and in the
National Cadastre (III).
I. Choosing the right property
When making the choice of the right property, it is advisable to seek help from real estate agencies,
preferably those agencies which now provide reliable services in Greece. Nevertheless, in contrast
with other European countries, many owners in Greece still offer their properties directly for sale on
Internet sites such as www.property-abroad.com and www.property-in-greece.com without the mediation of a broker.
By way of indication, the factors that should be taken into consideration by prospective buyers
when choosing the right property include the following:
Factors relating to the location
- green spaces
- noise levels
- proximity to airports
- rail or other mass transit connections
- seismic activity of the area
- available parking space
- ease of access to schools, public services, hospitals
- disruptive activities in the area (industry, airports, etc.)
Factors relating to the property itself
Particularly in the phase of choosing the right property from among real estate located in the same
or in comparable areas, interested buyers should evaluate and compare properties on the basis of the
- Actual size of the property as well as the size of the property as stated in the contract,
relevant tax declaration and on the electricity bill, since it is on the basis of this bill that
taxes and duties
on the property are determined. Foreign buyers especially should be aware
that on account of town planning
violations, there are often discrepancies between actual
surface area and the surface area declared in contracts.
- Compliance with town planning regulations. In particular, whether there have been any town
infringements and, if yes, whether they have been addressed.
- Technical condition of the property.
- Existing buildings and possibility of construction on adjacent plots.
- View from the property.
- The possibility of renting the property and its rental price.
Having the above information, interested buyers can compare more properties on the basis of the
price for the legally established size of the property before deciding on the offer that represents the
best value for money.
II Checks and Negotiations
After choosing the best property, a legal and technical assessment of the real estate is
recommended. Non-Greeks and overseas residents are advised at this point to refer the matter to a
law firm that will undertake the legal assessment, assign the technical assessment, make
preparations for negotiations with the seller in a manner that will safeguard the buyer’s interests and
coordinate all steps necessary for the purchase of the property.
1. Commitment of the Seller – Preliminary Agreement Deposit
Prior to the legal assessment, overseas residents in particular are advised to obtain a commitment
from the seller of the property that he or she will not sell the latter to any other person for as long as
it takes to carry out the legal and technical assessments. In the past, it was usual to pay a deposit for
this purpose. In the present circumstances, however, and thanks to the speeding up of procedures, it
is now possible to secure a unilateral commitment on the part of the seller without the payment of
any deposit. Otherwise, deposits are usually paid only in cases in which the seller needs cash for the
settlement of town planning infringements relating to the property1. Once the relevant undertaking
of the seller has been signed, the legal and technical assessments can be carried out.
III Legal Assessment
The legal assessment is absolutely necessary and should include an inspection not only of the title
deeds (to verify that the property indeed belongs to the seller and has no encumbrances)2 but also of
- The validity and authenticity of all documents and certificates
- The documents evidencing settlement of town planning infringements
- The deed establishing a horizontal property
- The property ownership declarations (E9 income tax form) of the previous owner
- Electricity bills, to verify that they state the correct surface area and zone rates on the basis
of which taxes are
- Verification that there are no common expenses owing
- The insurance policy
In such cases, when a deposit is paid to cover the expenses of putting the property in order, it
should be accompanied by the signing of a notarial preliminary agreement.
Inspection of the Transfer Records at the local Land Registry Office to verify that the property
being conveyed indeed belongs to the seller and whether it has belonged to him/her for at least 20
Inspection of the Encumbrance Records at the local Land Registry Office to ascertain whether
there are any mortgages, prenotations of mortgage, foreclosures or litigation in the name of the
seller or his/her predecessors.
3. Technical Assessment
As of 2011, the seller of a property is obliged to furnish an engineer’s certificate, for the issuance of
which the engineer must inspect the property to establish whether it infringes any town planning
regulations and, if yes, which. At the same time, an energy rating certificate is also issued. This
procedure, which places no financial burden on the buyer, gives the latter an initial idea about the
condition of the property. If, however, the buyer requires further information about the quality of
construction, the degree of seismic protection, etc., he or she is advised to request a technical
inspection by the civil engineer of the seller.
In the case of purchase of a building plot, the civil engineer checks:
- Whether the plot fulfils the relevant requirements for construction or development
- Whether there are any pending matters with regard to outstanding contributions in land or
of the issuance of building permits, expropriation for reasons of public
interest, the performance of road
or other projects, the possible designation of the plot as a
wooded area, forest land or land earmarked for
reforestation, as a natural habitat, foreshore,
archaeological site, military zone, etc.
- The permitted and prohibited land uses
4. Preparation – Power of Attorney
Along with the legal and technical assessments, it is also important – especially for non-Greeks and
overseas residents – to make the proper preparations for the purchase of the property. More
specifically, these include:
a. Opening an account at a Greek bank
In Greece, the purchase price is usually paid by bank check upon signing the contract. For this
reason and in order to obtain stronger proof of the importation of capital from abroad, foreign
nationals buying property in Greece are advised to open an account at a Greek bank, which in any
case they will also need subsequently for the day-to-day management of the property.
b. Enhanced power of attorney
In the event that the buyer is represented by a lawyer, a power of attorney to this effect must
immediately be drawn up. The document can be signed at a Greek Consulate or a notary public
abroad. Due to the fact that public services in Greece recognize only explicit instructions, and
because each power of attorney signed abroad is quite costly, prospective buyers are advised to sign
a power of attorney containing many clear instructions, even if only some of these are required
before the process is completed. Apart from the instructions pertaining to the specific property, it is
advisable to include also the following mandates which may be useful before or after the purchase
of the property:
- 1. Application for and receipt of a Tax Registration Number from the Tax Office for Overseas
- 2. Receipt of Taxisnet codes and key numbers (for online tax services).
- 3. Receipt of a tax clearance certificate (attesting fulfillment of all tax obligations).
- 4. Assignment of a survey of the property to an engineer (technical assessment).
- 5. Certificate attesting compliance with town planning regulations.
- 6. Appointment of a notary public.
- 7. Signing of any preliminary purchase agreement.
- 8. Payment of deposit if required.
- 9. Signing and filing of tax declarations with the local Tax Office (in the area of the property).
- 10. Securing of benefits on account of primary residence status, subject to entitlement.
- 11. Payment of any taxes due.
- 12. Signing of final contract.
- 13. Payment of the purchase price.
- 14. Payment of the notary public.
- 15. Signing of documents evidencing mortgage repayment and release or the lifting of conditions
(if any exist).
- 16. Mandate to appear and represent the buyer before all courts and authorities (especially tax and
administrative courts, up to the Council of State) in the event of any problem arising.
- 17. Mandate to institute legal proceedings regarding any matter arising in the future from the
purchase of the
- 18. Registration in the National Cadastre.
- 19. Remedying of any legal matters arising due to erroneous registration in the Cadastre (error on
the part of
- 20. Appointment of an accountant.
- 21. Filing of Tax Return (E1, E2 and E9 forms).
The legal and technical assessments are usually followed by final negotiations, in the framework of
which written undertakings/guarantees, supporting documents, corrections or adjustment of the
purchase price may be requested. In every case, buyers are advised to conduct final negotiations
always in the presence of lawyers.
Notary Public, Land Registry and Cadastre
Once a binding document has been signed by the seller, the buyer of the property can instruct the
notary to draw up the contract.
When the notary is instructed to draw up the contract, the seller of the property must furnish the
- Certificate of Tax Clearance from the competent Tax Office attesting that the seller has no
- Certificate from the local municipality or community attesting that no Real Estate Tax is
- Application/Certificate from the competent Tax Office, evidencing that all tax obligations
have been fulfilled with
regard to inheritance, parental gift or donation when the seller has
acquired ownership of the property through
inheritance, parental gift or donation.
- Certificate from the Social Insurance Institute evidencing the seller’s payment of social
- Energy Performance Certificate from a civil engineer.
- Certificate from a civil engineer attesting that the property does not infringe any town
- Certificate from a civil engineer attesting completion of the procedure for making the
property subject to the
provisions of article 24, Law 4014/2011, in the event of town
- Certificate from the competent Town Planning Office attesting completion of the procedure
for the legalization of
semi-open spaces or a change of use.
- Topographic plan.
- Extract of the cadastral map.
- Copy of the planning permission, if the building permit was issued after 14-3-1983.
- Certificate from the competent Tax Office attesting payment of all Real Estate Tax, in the
event that the seller is a
- Certified photocopy from the competent Tax Office of the receipt evidencing payment of the
Single Property Tax for
2009, containing a description of the property being conveyed,
along with a certificate attesting payment of the
applicable distributive tax for the property
The buyer must furnish the following documents:
- Identity card or valid passport.
- Receipts from the competent Tax Office evidencing payment of the Property Transfer Tax
for the real estate that
is to be purchased. For the purpose of calculating and paying this tax,
the buyer will have submitted to the
competent Tax Office – prior to the signing of the
contract – a special declaration drawn up by a notary.
- Tax Registration Number: In the case of non-residents of Greece, an application for a tax
must have been submitted to the Tax Office for Overseas Residents in
- The payment amount for the property, usually in the form of a bank check. This requirement
immediate settlement of the payment amount upon signing the contract may
appear unusual to many foreign
investors, given that the corresponding procedures in their
own countries are usually carried out by means of
bank transfers or the use of an escrow
account. At any rate, foreign investors are advised to open an account at a
Greek bank, to
which the payment amount is transferred, so that a bank check can subsequently be issued
settlement of the payment amount. The same procedure is also recommended for smaller
sums, e.g. the
payment of tax liabilities, since it evidences the importation of the
corresponding amount into the country.
After the signing of the contract and issuance of a photocopy thereof by the notary public, the
lawyer undertakes the task of registering the contract in the Land Registry Office of the area in
which the property is located or in the competent Cadastral Office if the area has been incorporated
in the National Cadastre. Registration completes the transfer of the property to the new owner and a
Registration Certificate is issued to this effect, which must be kept along with the contract since it
will be necessary for any future conveyance of the property.
Prospective buyers often overlook the fact that the purchase of real estate gives rise to a number of
obligations toward public services and third parties, as well as a number of tax liabilities which
must be settled during or immediately after the property purchase. In addition to registration and
recording in the Cadastre, buyers should bear in mind the following:
- Public Power Corporation (DEI)
- Athens Water Supply and Sewerage Company (EYDAP)
- Common expenses: Notification to the apartment building superintendent
- Public Gas Corporation (DEPA)
- In the case of rented properties: Notification to the tenant regarding the change of owner and
the way in which
the rent is to be paid
- Declaration of the property on the E9 income tax form
- Declaration of income from renting the property
- Non-Greeks and overseas residents should in every case consult a specialized accountant
who will take
care of all the necessary declarations
- Non-Greeks residing abroad who rent property in Greece during the summer as tourist
should be aware that income from such rentals is taxed in Greece, even
when the rent is paid abroad
Expenses for purchase of real estate in Greece
The expenses for purchasing real estate, based on the transfer of an old
property with a value of €100,000 will probably equate to around 15%.
The above guide was kindly donated by AP & Generalis alw Firm - www.apgp.eu