Greek Property Buyers Guide

Language:
Facebook Twitter RSS
Your have 0 properties in your shortlist - View Shortlist >>

Refine Your Search

The Greek Property Market

For decades, the real estate market was one of the most important growth sectors of the Greek economy. Particularly in the days of the drachma, real estate – along with foreign exchange – constituted the only safe hedge against inflation and frequent devaluations of the national currency. At the same time, the illogical system of taxing property – which still applies today – in effect did little to prevent the investment of untaxed income in real estate, which resulted in a sizeable portion of the capital gains on real estate being based on non-taxed amounts.

The adoption of the euro and the ability to borrow at unprecedentedly low interest rates meant large groups of the population were able, for the first time, to purchase their own home, which gave added impetus to the real estate market. This, in turn, led to a tremendous spike in transaction values which in many cases were higher than property values in countries of northern Europe.

However, in contrast with what happened in other countries of the European South, Greek construction companies relied heavily, even after 2002, on their own capital as opposed to bank lending. This conservative approach on the part of construction firms held back the real estate market at least during the first two years of the crisis from 2008 to 2010 when price reductions essentially remained at reasonable levels.

The complete degradation of the Greek real estate market began in 2010 with the introduction of the Emergency Property Tax. This tax, imposed with the aim of achieving budget deficit targets, came in the form of an emergency levy that did not replace but was added to the existing Single Property Tax and the various other taxes levied on real estate.

The economic crisis, the drastic reduction in the availability of housing loans, the over-taxation of property possession and the widespread fear that the country might leave the Eurozone, in conjunction with the opportunity afforded by the common currency for safer investments abroad, pushed Greek property prices to levels lower than those of the 1980s.

Despite the considerable drop in prices, the interest of Greeks in real estate investments in the country has in effect been confined to properties for owner occupation or holiday homes. The market for stores, office space or even apartments for rent is basically at a standstill and there will be little hope of recovery unless the tax on property possession is drastically reduced, because no investor wants at the present time to assume the risk of a property remaining unrented whilst still having to pay not only the maintenance costs but also the sizeable taxes for possession of the property.

The integration of the Real Estate Tax and Emergency Property Tax has been announced but no details have yet been specified, whilst the announcement/commitment that in the coming years taxation must yield the same amounts of taxes as those collected from the Emergency Property Tax leads necessarily to the conclusion that the taxation of property possession in Greece will remain at excessively high levels.

In view of the above, the Greek real estate market at the present time is of interest only to private individuals wishing to purchase properties for owner occupation or for their own holiday use, since to such prospective buyers the issue of investment return is of secondary importance. It should however be pointed out here that particularly in the case of this category of interested buyers, conditions are more than ideal, at least with regard to purchase prices, since in practice the payment amount is determined not by sellers but on the basis of buyers’ offers.

Investment Property in Greece

Again, in the aftermath of the Olympic Games, many real estate analysts maintain that the country -- particularly in and around Athens -- has been overbuilt, at least to some degree. This is a natural result in the aftermath of the Olympic Games and other large scale events such as the World's Fair.

In any event, this renders Greece an ideal locale for investment in real estate of all sorts -- industrial, commercial, residential, holiday property. This factor, coupled with Greece's admission into the EU, renders it a prime spot for realty investment. A significant number of foreign nationals have been attracted to the profitable Grecian real estate market at the present time.

Residential Real Estate in Greece - Single Family Properties

Low cost single family dwellings are rather difficult to find in the Athens metro-plex. If a person is interested in residential housing in that part of the country, the best bet at this point in time is apartments (which will be discussed in more detail shortly).

Understanding the functionality of the Athens residential market, there are a number of different areas beyond Athens in which single family residences can be purchased for a reasonable amount of money.

In addition, in different resort areas around the country there are some splendid (and pricy) villas and other properties that are attractive to well heeled foreign nationals who want second homes and holiday properties. With little difficulty on the hunt, a person with a bankroll to spend, can locate and purchase these types of homes.

Finally, there are farmsteads in different parts of Greece that are on the market. Some foreign nationals have taken to purchasing these types of properties which they then renovate and turn into magnificent second or holiday homes. Oftentimes, these properties can be purchased on the cheap and improved with only a moderate investment and expenditure. There are some foreign nationals who have taken to buying and then improving these properties after which they put them on the market and turn a tidy profit.

New Properties For Sale in Greece > <

Apartments in Greece

With the return of the Olympic Games to Greece, there was a boom in the number of apartments that were being constructed in that country, particularly in and around Athens -- the site of the games. Once the games concluded, there was a general consensus that developers had overbuilt apartments in Greece, again particularly in and around the capital city.

With this said and understood the apartment market in Greece (most especially in and around Athens) truly has become one that favours buyers at this point in time. Consequently, many foreign investors have been active in purchasing property for sale in Greece. Many such foreign property buyers have realized outstanding deals in the apartment market in Athens and in surrounding communities at the present time.

Holiday Property in Greece

As has been mentioned previously, the vacation or holiday real estate market in Greece is "hot." Indeed, the demand for vacation real estate has continued to increase each and every year since the turn of the century.

The country of Greece is dotted with some of the most extraordinary resort, vacation and holiday destinations to be found anywhere in the world. Tourists from around the globe can be found flocking to Greece each and every year.

An ever growing number of foreign nationals have turned to purchasing vacation or holiday properties in different locations around Greece for two primary reasons. First of all, and as was noted, Greece is a very popular travel and tourist destination. Thus, many of these people are making the purchase of this type of real estate for their own, personal purposes. Through the ownership of this type of real estate, people -- including extended families -- can enjoy extended holidays in Greece.

In addition to purchasing holiday properties for their own usage, some farsighted individuals are purchasing villas in greece so that they can then, in turn, rent or lease these properties to other individuals. Because of the large number of people who travel to Greece each and every year, this type of property investment is proving to be very profitable for a significant number of foreign nationals.

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.

However, one 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
  • safety
  • 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 following information:

  • Actual size of the property as well as the size of the property as stated in the contract,
    in the 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 planning
    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 following:

  • 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
    calculated
  • 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 years.

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 cash, suspension
    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 Residents.
  • 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 subsequent
    (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
    specific property.
  • 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
    government authorities).
  • 20. Appointment of an accountant.
  • 21. Filing of Tax Return (E1, E2 and E9 forms).

5. Negotiations

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 following documents:

  • Certificate of Tax Clearance from the competent Tax Office attesting that the seller has no outstanding tax
    obligations.
  • Certificate from the local municipality or community attesting that no Real Estate Tax is owing.
  • 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 security contributions,
    whenever required.
  • Energy Performance Certificate from a civil engineer.
  • Certificate from a civil engineer attesting that the property does not infringe any town planning regulations.
  • 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 planning infringements.
  • 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
    legal entity.
  • 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 being conveyed.

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 registration number
    must have been submitted to the Tax Office for Overseas Residents in Athens.
  • The payment amount for the property, usually in the form of a bank check. This requirement concerning the
    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 for
    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.

Post-purchase obligations

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:

1. General

  • 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

2. Taxation

  • 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 accommodation
    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

Greece Mortgages Options

When considering the options for a Greece mortgage on your overseas property there are a couple of choices to consider:

Do you consider raising finance on your existing property in the UK to cover the whole cost of your purchase abroad? A good idea if the interest rate in the country in question is a lot higher than it is here in the UK as you will pay a lot less in monthly repayments.

Do you secure a mortgage against the property from a local bank in the country of purchase? This can be a wise option especially if the interest rate is lower than our current UK interest rate. Most overseas mortgage / bank lenders will require upto 30% deposit on mortgages. However, you will need to give some thought to how you will service your mortgage payments each month especially if you are not living or earning in that country as you may well lose out on exchanging money each time to cover monthly expenses. Check out our Foreign Currency page to see how you can save money in this example

Some Builders and developers may well offer their own mortgage facilities on their properties for sale. This can be beneficial to both parties depending on the logistics of the mortgage or loan facility. Always check and compare with the two options above before making your final descision.

For more details on Mortgages in Greece visit our Mortgage page in Greece section.

Help others to find this article:

del.icio.us Furl this page


Overseas Property News

Luxury Buyers Head to Rhodes Courtesy of Tax Reductions
2014-03-27

Engel & Volkers, the real-estate agency reports that the luxury home market in Rhodes, has picked up.....

Fall in Greek Property Prices is Good News for Overseas Buyers
2014-03-19

The falling house prices in Greece has caught the attention of overseas investors, according to mark.....

Was the Fall of the Property Market in Greece Inevitable
2014-03-11

Could the property market debacle in Greece have been prevented, or has it been lurking around the c.....