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How to make a good property investment in Greece

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Everything you need to know is included in our Greece Property Pack

Whether you prefer an island villa in Santorini, a modern apartment in Athens, or a valuable rental investment in the historic city of Thessaloniki, Greece presents diverse real estate opportunities to cater to your investment preferences.

However, making a property investment in this country can be challenging, especially with all the new laws and regulations involved.

We're committed to breaking down everything you need to know in a way that's easy to grasp, making it simpler for you. If you have any lingering questions, please feel free to get in touch with us.

Also, for a more detailed analysis, you can download our property pack for Greece, made by our country expert and reviewed by locals.

How is investing in real estate in Greece?

Is Greece an attractive destination for property investment?

Greece is increasingly recognized as an attractive destination for property investment for various reasons.

Its real estate market has shown a dynamic character, especially in the wake of the country's economic recovery. A significant indicator of this dynamism is the rise in international demand for Greek properties, particularly from investors and retirees from Europe and beyond.

This interest has been bolstered by programs like the Golden Visa scheme, which offers residency in exchange for real estate investment.

Historically, the Greek real estate market has had its share of challenges, particularly during the financial crisis that hit the country hard in the late 2000s.

However, in recent years, the market has been recovering steadily, marked by increasing property values and a resurgence in construction, especially in tourist hotspots and urban areas.

Investments in Greece's real estate market tend to vary, with certain types and locations standing out. For instance, holiday homes on the Greek islands, like Mykonos and Santorini, are particularly popular due to their appeal to tourists and investors alike.

In urban centers like Athens, there's a growing market for apartments, both for resale and rental, especially in neighborhoods that are popular with tourists or close to business districts. The budget for these investments can range from affordable to high-end luxury properties, catering to a broad spectrum of investors.

One unique and highly appealing aspect of Greek properties, especially those located in the islands and coastal areas, is their stunning natural settings combined with traditional architectural styles.

The iconic white-washed houses with blue accents in the Cyclades, for example, are not just aesthetically pleasing but also reflect a unique cultural and historical heritage, making them highly desirable.

When it comes to investment safety, Greece offers a relatively stable environment compared to other countries. Following its economic recovery, the country has seen improvements in its legal and regulatory framework, making property transactions more secure and transparent.

Additionally, Greece's membership in the European Union adds an extra layer of economic stability and legal certainty.

Regarding the language barrier, while Greek is the official language, in major tourist areas and cities, English is widely spoken, particularly in sectors related to real estate and tourism.

This makes it feasible for foreign investors to navigate the market without fluency in Greek, though having some knowledge of the language can be beneficial in more rural or less touristy areas.

What are the trends forecasts for the real estate market in Greece?

The current trends in the Greek housing market reflect a dynamic interplay of factors, influenced by Greece's economic recovery, tourism, foreign investment, and urban development initiatives.

Starting with the economic landscape, Greece has been recovering steadily from its decade-long financial crisis. This recovery has sparked renewed interest in real estate, especially in major cities like Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as in popular tourist destinations.

Property prices, which had plummeted during the crisis, have begun to rise, though they remain lower than their peak pre-crisis levels. This makes Greece an attractive destination for both domestic buyers looking for affordable options and foreign investors seeking value for money.

Tourism, a cornerstone of the Greek economy, plays a significant role. The country's natural beauty, rich history, and cultural heritage continue to draw visitors, driving demand for short-term rental properties. This demand has been bolstered by platforms like Airbnb, leading to a boom in the market for holiday homes and rental investments.

The Greek Golden Visa program, which offers residency permits to non-EU investors purchasing property worth at least €250,000, has also attracted significant foreign investment, particularly from Chinese, Russian, and Middle Eastern buyers.

Looking ahead, several factors could shape the market's trajectory. The continued economic recovery is likely to further boost confidence and investment in real estate.

Additionally, urban renewal projects, particularly in Athens, are transforming previously overlooked areas into desirable locations, potentially increasing property values in these regions.

However, the market isn't without its risks. Political and economic changes both within Greece and globally can impact investments. For example, changes in government policies related to property taxes, rental regulations, or the Golden Visa program could affect investor sentiment.

Internationally, economic turbulence, such as fluctuations in the Eurozone or broader geopolitical tensions, could influence foreign investment flows into Greece.

Regarding legislation and government policies, it's crucial to stay informed about any upcoming changes. For instance, any amendments in property taxation, either increases or decreases, can significantly impact the cost of owning and investing in real estate.

Similarly, changes in laws governing rental properties, especially in the context of short-term holiday rentals, could alter the landscape for investors and homeowners alike.

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What types of property can you buy in Greece? What are the prices and yields?

If you need a detailed and updated analysis of the prices, rents and yields, you can get our full guide about real estate investment in Greece.

Investing in property in Greece presents a variety of options, each with its own set of characteristics and potential returns.

You can consider various types of properties, including residential homes, apartments, commercial properties, and even undeveloped land. Building a property is certainly doable, but it requires a thorough understanding of local zoning laws, construction costs, and the Greek real estate market.

In Greek cities, the average cost of residential properties varies. Athens, being the capital, typically has higher property prices compared to other cities.

You could expect average prices in urban areas to be in the range of €1,500 to €2,500 per square meter, though this can fluctuate based on location, property condition, and market dynamics.

The ratio of renters to owners in Greece is an interesting aspect of the housing market. There's a significant rental market, with many people choosing to rent, especially in urban areas and tourist hotspots.

This trend is partly driven by economic factors and the flexibility renting offers. In terms of investment, buying to let is a common strategy, particularly in cities and tourist-frequented areas.

Rental yield potential, the return you can expect from renting out your property, varies. In cities like Athens, Thessaloniki, and popular islands, you might see annual rental yields ranging from 4% to 7%. This depends on the property's location, size, and quality, as well as the local rental market's demand.

Speaking of rental demand, it's influenced significantly by tourism, especially in areas like Crete, Mykonos, or Santorini. Properties in these locations often fetch higher rental prices during the tourist season, offering lucrative short-term rental opportunities.

The demand for short-term rentals often peaks during the tourist season, inflating rental prices and leading to higher potential returns.

Regarding the ease of reselling property, it largely depends on the property's location, condition, and the market conditions at the time of sale. Properties in prime locations or tourist-frequented areas tend to have higher liquidity, meaning they can be sold more easily.

Typical holding periods for property investments in Greece can range from a few years to several decades. This depends on your investment goals, whether you're looking for short-term gains from market fluctuations or long-term appreciation and rental income.

Capital gains prospects also vary. While predicting exact figures is challenging, properties in high-demand areas or those that significantly improve over the holding period can see substantial appreciation, sometimes ranging from 5% to 15% or more.

Which regions in Greece offer the best investment opportunities?

Foreigners often look to Greece for property investments for various reasons, including its beautiful landscapes, rich history, and relatively affordable property prices compared to other European destinations.

The type of foreigners attracted to Greek property markets usually includes retirees, investors, and those seeking holiday homes. Each group has different preferences, influencing their choice of location and type of property.

Starting with budget-friendly and attractive regions for investment, areas like the Peloponnese, Crete, and some parts of the mainland offer good value for money. These areas are known for their natural beauty, historical significance, and more relaxed lifestyle, appealing to retirees and those seeking a peaceful holiday retreat.

The property prices in these regions are generally lower than in the more popular islands, but they still offer a high quality of life.

On the flip side, trending regions include Mykonos, Santorini, and parts of Athens, particularly the coastline areas. These locations have seen a surge in popularity, especially among younger investors and affluent buyers looking for luxury properties and a vibrant lifestyle.

While properties here are more expensive, the potential for rental income is also higher due to the strong tourism market.

Each region has its pros and cons. Budget-friendly areas like the Peloponnese and Crete offer tranquility and a more authentic Greek experience but might lack some of the amenities and facilities found in more developed areas.

On the other hand, trending locations like Mykonos and Santorini offer modern luxuries, a lively atmosphere, and better rental income prospects but at a higher cost and with potentially more seasonal fluctuations in demand.

Looking into the future, areas with potential for price appreciation and increased rental demand include lesser-known islands or mainland coastal towns. These areas might benefit from an overflow of tourism and investment as more popular destinations become overcrowded or overly expensive.

Their appeal lies in their untapped potential, offering a blend of beauty, culture, and affordability.

However, certain regions might be best avoided by foreign investors. These could include areas with low tourism appeal, limited infrastructure, or those prone to natural hazards like earthquakes.

Additionally, some regions might face legal or bureaucratic challenges, making property transactions and ownership more complicated.

Here is a summary table to help you visualize better. If you need more detailed data and information, please check our property pack for Greece.

Region Attractions Target Buyers Pros Cons Property Prices
Peloponnese, Crete, Parts of Mainland Natural Beauty, Historical Significance Retirees, Peaceful Holiday Seekers Tranquility, Authentic Greek Experience May lack certain amenities Lower than popular islands
Mykonos, Santorini, Athens Coastline Luxury Properties, Vibrant Lifestyle Younger Investors, Affluent Buyers Modern Luxuries, High Rental Income Higher Cost, Seasonal Demand Fluctuations More Expensive
Lesser-Known Islands, Mainland Coastal Towns Untapped Potential, Beauty, Culture Investors Seeking Growth Price Appreciation Potential, Affordability Emerging Infrastructure Varies, Generally Affordable
Areas with Low Tourism, Prone to Natural Hazards Limited Not Recommended for Foreign Investors N/A Limited Infrastructure, Legal Challenges Not Applicable

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Who can invest in real estate in Greece?

Investing in property as a foreigner in Greece

Investing in housing property in Greece as a foreigner is quite feasible, but there are some nuances to consider.

First off, foreigners generally have the same rights as Greek citizens when it comes to owning property, including land. This is a significant point, as it opens up a wide range of investment opportunities.

However, there are some restrictions based on your nationality, particularly if you're from a non-EU country. EU citizens face fewer hurdles in purchasing property in Greece compared to non-EU citizens.

For non-EU citizens, certain areas in Greece, particularly those of strategic importance or near national borders, may require special permission from local authorities before a purchase can be made.

You don't need to live in Greece to buy and own property there. This means you can invest in Greek property even if you're living abroad. A residence permit isn't necessary for the purchase, but if you're planning to stay in Greece for an extended period, you might need to look into the residency requirements separately.

When it comes to documentation, one key requirement is obtaining a Greek Tax Identification Number (TIN). This is essential for all property transactions. You'll also need a passport and, in some cases, additional documents depending on your situation.

Regarding financial aspects, having a local bank account in Greece is not a strict requirement, but it can simplify transactions like paying taxes or utility bills.

Payments for the property can generally be made in euros, and it's important to be aware of the currency exchange rates and any associated fees if you're transferring money from abroad.

The duration of property ownership for foreigners in Greece isn't restricted. You can own the property indefinitely, and it can be passed on to your heirs or sold to another foreigner without any additional restrictions specific to foreign ownership.

Taxation is another important aspect. Foreign property owners are subject to the same property taxes as Greek citizens. This includes annual property taxes and taxes on rental income if you decide to rent out your property.

It's essential to be aware of these ongoing costs when considering your investment.

Finally, while you don't need specific authorization from a governmental institution to purchase property, the process does involve legal checks to ensure everything is in order.

It's a good idea to consult with a local real estate lawyer or agent who can guide you through the legalities and ensure a smooth transaction.

Residency and investment in Greece

Greece offers a residency program for individuals who invest in real estate, commonly known as the "Golden Visa" program.

This initiative allows non-EU citizens to gain residency in Greece through property investment.

To start with, the minimal investment required is usually around 250,000 Euros.

This can be in the form of purchasing one or multiple properties, as long as the total value meets the minimum threshold. It's important to note that the investment must be made in full, and not through financing or a mortgage.

The process involves several steps. First, you need to find and purchase a property in Greece that meets the investment requirement.

Once the property purchase is complete, you need to apply for a residency permit. This involves submitting various documents, including proof of the property purchase, a valid passport, health insurance that covers you in Greece, and a clean criminal record.

The residency permit obtained through this program is initially valid for five years. It is renewable as long as you maintain the property investment in Greece. This residency does not require you to live in Greece full-time, giving you flexibility.

While this residency permit does not automatically grant you permanent residency or citizenship, it can be a stepping stone towards these.

After seven years of continuous residency in Greece, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residency. Furthermore, after living in Greece for a total of seven years, you might be eligible to apply for citizenship, but this involves additional requirements, including passing a language and cultural knowledge test.

The Golden Visa program has been quite popular.

Since its inception, thousands of investors and their family members have taken advantage of this scheme. It's especially attractive due to the relatively low investment threshold compared to similar programs in other European countries.

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How to get started to invest in real estate in Greece?

What is the step-by-step process to buy property in Greece?

We'll give her a brief overview. However, there is a detailed and dedicated document to the buying process in our property pack for Greece.

Purchasing property in Greece involves a series of steps, starting with making an offer and culminating in obtaining full ownership.

The process, while systematic, can be intricate, especially for those unfamiliar with the local real estate norms and regulations.

Once you've found a property you like, the first step is usually to make an offer. If it's accepted, you enter a pre-contractual agreement, which involves a small deposit. This stage is critical as it's where negotiations occur, and it's advisable to have a lawyer who can guide you through the legal intricacies.

Following the agreement, a series of legal checks are conducted. This includes ensuring the property has a clean title, is free from encumbrances, and complies with planning regulations. Greek property law can be complex, and this stage is often where delays occur, primarily due to bureaucratic processes.

One unique aspect in Greece is the requirement of a tax number, known as an AFM, which you'll need to proceed with the purchase. This is a step not commonly found in other countries' property buying processes.

The actual purchase involves signing the final contract in front of a notary. This step is relatively straightforward, but it's essential to have all your documents in order, including your AFM and proof of funds. The notary's role is crucial in ensuring the legality of the transaction.

The process from finding a house to full ownership can take several months, largely due to the legal checks and potential bureaucratic delays. This timeframe can be shorter or longer depending on various factors, including the property's legal status and how swiftly agreements and checks are conducted.

Regarding language, while not absolutely necessary, knowing Greek or having a translator can significantly ease the process. Many legal documents and negotiations will be in Greek, and having a grasp of the language helps in understanding the nuances of the transaction.

Culturally, Greece operates on a more relaxed time frame, which can sometimes lead to delays. It's important to be patient and flexible.

Also, building personal relationships can play a significant role in negotiations and the overall process, more so than in some other countries.

Looking for property in Greece

Please note that there is a list of contacts (real estate agencies, lawyers, notaries, etc.) and websites in our pack of documents related to the real estate market in Greece.

In Greece, finding a house typically involves a blend of modern and traditional methods.

Many people start their search online, using housing portals such as Spitogatos or XE, which are popular in Greece and offer extensive listings. These platforms are user-friendly, providing detailed information about properties, including photos, prices, and location details.

Real estate agents also play a significant role in the Greek property market. They often have exclusive listings that aren't available on public platforms. Working with an agent can provide access to a wider range of properties, including those that may not be advertised online. Agents have in-depth knowledge of the local market and can offer valuable insights, especially in areas where property transactions are less standardized.

Social media and local forums can be useful, especially in smaller communities or specific neighborhoods. Facebook groups, for instance, can be a good source for finding listings and getting recommendations for real estate agents.

However, while these can be helpful, they're generally considered supplementary to the more established methods of property searching.

Working with a real estate agent is recommended, especially for those unfamiliar with the Greek property market. However, not all agents are equally reliable. It's important to look for agents with good references and a strong track record. Red flags include a lack of transparency, reluctance to provide references, or pressure to make quick decisions.

Buyers can access property listings directly, but agents often provide a curated selection based on the buyer's specific needs and preferences. This can save time and help focus the search on suitable properties.

In Greece, the roles and responsibilities of a buyer's agent and a seller's agent can differ. A seller's agent works on behalf of the seller to get the best price and terms, while a buyer's agent focuses on the buyer's interests. Understanding this distinction is crucial when navigating negotiations and discussions.

Real estate agent commissions in Greece are not standardized and can vary. It's always a good idea to discuss fees upfront and understand how the agent is compensated. Typically, the seller pays the agent's commission, but this can vary depending on the agreement.

When dealing with real estate agents, building a good relationship is key. Agents are more likely to go the extra mile for clients they have a good rapport with. Being clear about your needs and budget, and showing respect for the agent's expertise, can lead to a more successful property search.

It's also advisable to be patient and open to negotiation, as the Greek property market can have its unique rhythms and practices.

Buying property in Greece

Negotiation is a common part of the property buying process in Greece.

While it's customary to negotiate the selling price, the amount of discount you can expect varies. Typically, buyers can aim for a discount of around 5-10% off the listed price, but this depends on various factors such as the property's location, condition, and the current market dynamics. It's important to approach negotiations with a sense of respect and realism; overly aggressive bargaining can be counterproductive.

Conducting due diligence is a critical aspect of buying property in Greece. This process involves a thorough investigation to ensure the property is legally sound and the transaction is secure. One of the key steps is conducting a title search to verify clear title ownership.

This means checking the property's history to ensure there are no outstanding mortgages, liens, or legal claims against it.

Hiring a lawyer is not mandatory but highly recommended. A lawyer specialized in real estate transactions can guide you through the legal aspects of the purchase, including the title search. They can also help in understanding any legal jargon and ensuring that all necessary legal procedures are followed. The cost of hiring a lawyer can vary but typically ranges from 1% to 2% of the property's value, depending on the complexity of the transaction.

In terms of paperwork, several documents are required for a property purchase in Greece. These include proof of the seller's ownership, a certificate from the local land registry confirming the property is free of any encumbrances, and a tax clearance certificate proving all property taxes have been paid. Your lawyer can assist in obtaining these documents.

A notary is also an essential part of the property buying process in Greece. While it's not mandatory to hire a notary from the outset, their involvement is necessary for drafting and validating the final property contract. The notary ensures that the transaction adheres to Greek law and that all documents are in order. Notary fees are typically around 1-2% of the property's value.

Property ownership is officially transferred through the signing of the contract in front of the notary. After signing, the contract must be registered with the local land registry. This registration is crucial as it legally transfers ownership and makes the transaction public record.

The buyer is responsible for paying the property transfer tax, which is calculated based on the property's value.

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Financing a property in Greece

Financing property investments in Greece as a foreign investor involves understanding the local banking and legal systems.

While it's possible for foreigners to apply for a mortgage from Greek banks, this is not as common as in some other countries. The process can be rigorous, with banks requiring thorough documentation and proof of financial stability. Interest rates for mortgages in Greece have been historically low, but they vary depending on the bank and the specific circumstances of the loan. It's wise to shop around and compare rates from various banks.

When it comes to paying for the property, the typical process starts with paying a deposit. This deposit, usually about 10% of the sale price, is paid upon reaching a preliminary agreement or signing a pre-contract. This step secures the property and the deal. The remaining balance is then paid at the final contract signing, conducted in the presence of a notary. This structure of payment ensures security for both parties involved in the transaction.

The overall costs associated with buying property in Greece go beyond the purchase price. When purchasing a property, you're required to pay a transfer tax, generally around 3-4% of the property's value. Additionally, notary fees for drafting and certifying the contract typically range from 1-2% of the property's value.

Legal fees are another consideration; hiring a lawyer is highly advisable to navigate the Greek legal system, and these fees typically fall between 1-2% of the property's value. While real estate agent fees are usually borne by the seller, they can range from 2-4% of the purchase price and should be factored into the overall cost.

Ongoing property taxes are also a significant consideration. The annual property tax, known as ENFIA, varies based on factors like size, location, and property type.

Additionally, if you sell the property, capital gains tax will apply, and the rate can vary. Staying informed about these tax rates is crucial for effective financial planning.

What are the risks and pitfalls when buying property in Greece?

Investing in property in Greece, like any real estate market, comes with its own set of risks, and understanding these is crucial for any foreign investor.

Property rights in Greece are generally secure for foreigners, but there are specific pitfalls and legal nuances that are important to consider.

One significant pitfall is the complexity of the Greek property laws and the land registry system. The land registry in Greece is not as straightforward as in some other countries, with some properties not properly registered or documented. This can lead to issues in verifying clear title ownership, a crucial step in the property buying process. Foreigners, unfamiliar with the system, can find themselves entangled in legal disputes over property ownership.

Another unique risk involves the archaeological laws in Greece. If a property is found to have archaeological significance, it can be subjected to strict regulations or even expropriation by the state without substantial compensation. Foreign investors might not be aware of this and could invest in properties with unexplored archaeological potential, leading to unexpected legal and financial complications.

Environmental risks also play a role in property investment decisions. Greece is known for seismic activity, and certain areas are prone to earthquakes. Additionally, climate change implications, such as rising sea levels and increased risk of wildfires, could affect property values, especially in coastal regions.

It's important for investors to consider these factors, particularly when investing in beachfront or rural properties.

Regarding insurance, foreign property owners in Greece are advised to have comprehensive property insurance, which covers risks like earthquakes, fires, and floods. Liability insurance is also important to protect against any claims that might arise from injuries or accidents on the property.

To mitigate these risks, due diligence is key. This includes thorough legal checks, ensuring clear title, understanding the local environmental risks, and securing comprehensive insurance. Working with a reputable local lawyer who understands the intricacies of Greek property law and the specific challenges faced by foreign investors is essential.

In case of conflicts or disputes, Greece has legal protections in place for foreign property buyers. The Greek legal system provides avenues for dispute resolution, and EU citizens may have additional protections under EU law. However, the reliability of these protections can vary, and legal proceedings in Greece can be lengthy and complex.

While there are no widely publicized case studies of foreign investment failures specifically in the Greek real estate market, it's not uncommon to hear of issues arising from the challenges mentioned above. These typically involve disputes over property ownership, unexpected legal complications due to archaeological finds, or financial losses due to environmental factors.

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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Readers are advised to consult with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions. We do not assume any liability for actions taken based on the information provided.