Buying real estate in Greece as a foreigner?

We've created a guide to help you avoid pitfalls, save time, and make the best long-term investment possible.

Buying property in Greece as a foreigner: a full guide

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buying property foreigner Greece

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

Greece, with its breathtaking scenery, rich cultural history, and hospitable locals, draws in many outsiders looking for investment prospects in real estate.

But understanding the complexities of purchasing property in a foreign country can be difficult, especially when it comes to the legal aspects and regulations.

That's why this guide is here to help! We'll explain how the property market works in Greece in a straightforward and easy-to-grasp way, covering everything you need to know.

Also, for a more in-depth analysis, you can check our property pack for Greece.

Can you purchase and own a property in Greece as a foreigner?

If you are American, we have a dedicated blog post regarding the property buying and owning process in Greece for US citizens.

Buying real estate in Greece as a foreigner is quite straightforward, but there are some specific rules and considerations you should be aware of.

Understanding these will help you navigate the process more effectively.

Firstly, foreigners can indeed buy property in Greece, including land. This is a significant point because in some countries, foreign nationals are restricted from owning land.

In Greece, your rights as a foreign property owner are largely similar to those of Greek citizens. You have the right to buy, sell, and inherit property without any major restrictions.

However, there are special rules for non-European Union (EU) nationals. If you're from a non-EU country, you might need to obtain a permit for the acquisition of property in border areas. This is a security measure and is generally a formality, but it's an additional step to consider.

Another important aspect is the Golden Visa program, which is particularly relevant if you're a non-EU citizen. Under this program, if you invest a minimum of €250,000 in Greek real estate, you can obtain a residency permit.

This is an attractive option for many as it allows you, and your family, to live in Greece and travel within the Schengen Area.

However, it's not a requirement for property purchase – you can buy property in Greece without residing there or without intending to reside there.

Regarding visas and permits, generally, you don't need a specific visa to buy property in Greece.

But if you're planning to stay in the country for an extended period, you'll need to adhere to Greece's immigration rules, which may require a visa or residency permit depending on your nationality and the length of your stay.

When it comes to the buying process, it's relatively straightforward but does involve some specific steps. You'll need to obtain a Greek tax number (AFM), which is required for all property transactions.

Also, employing a lawyer is highly recommended to navigate the legal aspects of the purchase. They can help with checking the property’s legal status, ensuring there are no outstanding issues or debts attached to it.

Finally, be aware of the financial implications. There are various taxes and fees associated with buying property in Greece, including transfer tax, legal fees, and real estate agent fees.

These can add a significant amount to the overall cost of the purchase.

Can you become a resident in Greece by buying and owning a property?

Greece offers a residency program known as the "Golden Visa" program, specifically designed for non-European Union (EU) nationals who invest in real estate in the country.

This program is a popular way to obtain residency through property investment, and it comes with certain requirements and benefits.

The key feature of the Golden Visa program is that it allows you and your family to gain a residency permit in Greece by making a minimum investment in real estate.

The minimum investment required is €250,000, which is relatively lower compared to similar programs in other European countries. This investment can be in one or multiple properties and can include residential or commercial real estate.

To start the process, you first need to make the qualifying real estate investment in Greece. Once this investment is made, you can apply for the residency permit.

The steps generally involve gathering various documents, such as proof of the property purchase, a clean criminal record, and health insurance coverage. You'll also need to obtain a Greek tax identification number and open a bank account in Greece.

One of the appealing aspects of the Greek Golden Visa program is that it extends to your family. This includes your spouse, children under the age of 21, and dependent parents.

The residency permit granted through this program is initially valid for five years and is renewable as long as you maintain the property investment in Greece.

It's important to note that the Greek Golden Visa is a residency program, not a citizenship program. It grants you the right to live in Greece, but it doesn't lead directly to Greek citizenship.

However, after residing in Greece for a certain number of years and meeting other criteria, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship through naturalization.

The rules for this process are separate from the Golden Visa program and require a more extended period of physical presence in the country, among other requirements.

The Greek Golden Visa program has been quite popular since its inception. Thousands of investors, particularly from China, Russia, and the Middle East, have taken advantage of this program to gain residency in the EU.

The exact number of people who have used the scheme varies from year to year, but it's certainly in the thousands.

Thinking of buying real estate in Greece?

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Market data

You can find fresh and updated data in our pack of documents related to the real estate market in Greece.

By examining the the the GDP per capita indicator, we can deduct that Greek people have become 8.2% richer throughout the past 5 years.

With the population becoming wealthier, there is a likelihood of increased demand for real estate, potentially leading to higher prices in the future.

Looking at the data reported by Numbeo, we can see that rental properties in Greece offer gross rental yields between 2.7% and 5.4%.

While they may not provide significant profitability, these moderate yields offer stability and a steady income stream over time.

To know more, you can also read our dedicated article: is it a good time to buy a property in Greece?

Life as an expat

Living as an expat in Greece is an incredibly rewarding experience.

The country offers a unique combination of ancient culture, stunning landscapes, and a laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle. With its rich history and vibrant culture, Greece is a country full of opportunities. From the idyllic islands of the Cyclades to the vibrant capital of Athens, there is something for everyone to explore. Expats in Greece will find that the friendly locals are always happy to help out and make them feel at home.

The country also boasts an excellent healthcare system, great educational opportunities, and a wide variety of activities and attractions. Plus, the cost of living in Greece is relatively low, making it an attractive option for those looking for a more affordable lifestyle.

All in all, life as an expat in Greece is an incredibly rewarding experience.

What are the best places to buy a property in Greece?

This table summarizes some of the best places to buy a property in Greece.

City / Region Population Average Price per sqm (EUR) Strengths
Athens ≈ 664,000 2,000 - 4,000 Capital city, historical sites, vibrant culture, lively street life
Thessaloniki ≈ 325,000 1,500 - 3,500 Second-largest city, cultural capital, diverse culinary scene
Crete ≈ 620,000 1,500 - 3,500 Largest Greek island, stunning beaches, rich history, hospitality
Rhodes ≈ 50,000 1,500 - 3,500 Medieval city, picturesque landscapes, popular tourist destination
Corfu ≈ 27,000 1,500 - 3,500 Ionian island, Venetian architecture, natural beauty, vibrant nightlife
Chania ≈ 60,000 1,500 - 3,500 Crete's second-largest city, scenic harbor, historic charm
Santorini ≈ 15,000 3,000 - 6,000 Stunning views, Caldera cliffs, iconic sunsets, luxury tourism

Do you need a lawyer to buy a property in Greece?

When purchasing a property in Greece, engaging a local lawyer can be crucial in navigating the legal requirements and ensuring a successful transaction.

One crucial document they can assist with is the Purchase Agreement (Synallagma Agoras), a legally binding contract between the buyer and seller that outlines the terms and conditions of the sale.

The Greek lawyer can also help with conducting a Title Deed Search (Eisagogeis Tameion) to verify the property's ownership status and identify any potential legal issues or encumbrances.

Moreover, they can guide you through the process of obtaining necessary permits and approvals, such as approval from the local Land Registry or relevant authorities.

They will ensure that all applicable taxes and fees, such as the Property Transfer Tax and Notary Fees, are paid correctly and in compliance with Greek laws and regulations.

What are the risks when buying real estate in Greece?

We've got an article dedicated to the risks associated with purchasing property in Greece.

When buying a property in Greece, there are some risks which are not common in other countries.

One of the most important risks is the issue of title deeds. In Greece, a property can be owned by several people or entities, and all of them must sign the title deed in order for the property to be sold. This can be a lengthy process and can lead to delays in the completion of the purchase.

Another risk when buying a property in Greece is the potential for unpaid taxes.

Greece has a complicated tax system, and it is possible that the previous owner of the property may have unpaid taxes which could become the responsibility of the new owner. This can be a significant risk, as the unpaid taxes could be considerable.

Finally, there is the risk of bureaucratic delays. Greece has a reputation for being slow and inefficient when it comes to paperwork and bureaucracy. This can lead to delays in the completion of the purchase, and can cause frustration for all parties involved.

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

What are the documents needed for a real estate transaction in Greece?

When buying a property in Greece, the list of documents needed includes:

1. A valid ID or passport.

2. A Greek tax number (AFM).

3. A deed of sale.

4. A certificate of suitability for the property.

5. A certificate of ownership.

6. Building permits and other documents related to the property.

7. A signed contract of sale.

8. A title deed.

9. A contract of mortgage or loan, if applicable.

We review each of these documents and tell you how to use them in our property pack for Greece.

How can you effectively negotiate with Greek individuals?

When negotiating to purchase a property in Greece, it is important to understand and appreciate Greek culture, which is deeply rooted in ancient history, Mediterranean traditions, and a strong sense of community.

Greek society places great importance on respect and building personal relationships. It is advisable to approach negotiations with a respectful and considerate attitude, taking the time to establish a genuine connection with the local seller.

Open and honest communication is highly valued in Greek culture. It is essential to clearly and transparently communicate your intentions, expectations, and the terms of the sale. Directness and clarity are generally appreciated. Also, patience is key during negotiations in Greece. Decision-making processes may take time, and it is important to show understanding and flexibility. Demonstrating patience and a willingness to engage in thoughtful discussions can help build trust and lead to successful outcomes.

Familiarizing yourself with the local real estate market and legal procedures is essential. Conduct thorough research on property laws, regulations, and any associated costs such as taxes, fees, and maintenance expenses. This knowledge will empower you during negotiations and ensure a smooth transaction.

Lastly, embracing Greek culture and customs can create a positive impression. Showing an interest in the country's rich heritage, Mediterranean traditions, and warm hospitality can help foster a harmonious relationship with the seller and enhance your overall experience of buying a property in Greece.

Can foreigners obtain a bank loan in Greece?

Yes, foreigners can obtain property loans in Greece. The Greek banking system allows non-residents to apply for property loans, subject to certain conditions and requirements.

If you're a foreigner looking to get a property loan in Greece, you'll usually need a valid residence permit and be able to prove your income or employment. Additionally, you must meet the specific requirements set by the lenders in the country.

Some banks in Greece that can grant mortgages to foreigners include Alpha Bank, National Bank of Greece, and Eurobank.

Moreover, mortgage rates in Greece for a 20-year term range from 2% to 6%, which are remarkably good.

What are the taxes related to a property transaction in Greece?

Here is a breakdown of taxes related to a property transaction in Greece.

Tax Description Calculation Who pays
Rental Income Tax Tax on rental income generated from the property A progressive scale of 15% to 45% of the rental income Owner
Property Tax (ENFIA) Annual tax on the property's value A rate of 2 to 16 euros per square metre Owner
Municipal Tax (TAP) Tax imposed by the municipality and typically added to electricity bills 0.025% to 0.035% of the property’s actual value Owner
Transfer Tax Tax on the transfer of property ownership 3.09% of the property value Buyer
Capital Gains Tax Tax on the capital gain from the sale of a property 15% on the net capital gain (the difference between sale price and acquisition cost) Seller
Value Added Tax (VAT) Tax on the sale of new residential properties 24% VAT for new properties, exemption for existing properties Buyer

What fees are involved in a property transaction in Greece?

Below is a simple breakdown of fees for a property transaction in Greece.

Fee Description Calculation Who pays
Land Registry Fee Fee for registering the property transfer with the Land Registry Varies from 0.48% to 0.68% depending on the property value and municipality regulations Buyer
Notary Fee Fee for notarizing the property transfer documents Around 1% of the property value, depending on the complexity of the transfer Buyer
Real Estate Agent Fee Fee charged by real estate agents for their services Typically around 2% - 5% of the property sale price (split between the seller and buyer) Seller and Buyer
Legal Fee Fee for legal services related to the property transfer Usually between 1% and 2 % of the property value, depending on the complexity of the transaction and lawyer fees Buyer

Buying real estate in Greece can be risky

An increasing number of foreign investors are showing interest in Greece. However, 90% of them will make mistakes. Avoid the pitfalls with our comprehensive guide.

buying property foreigner Greece