In 2013 and 2014 significant foreign investments were realized, due to the attractiveness of Greek asset prices, the willingness of Greece to recover its economy and the Return on Investment potential. (Investment Law «FastTrack»).
Incentives for Real Estate investors include the provision of long term Residence permit for investment above a certain threshold which is the second lowest in Europe (more details for Schengen visa on Greek official website.)
The property market in Greece is fairly straightforward. According to the Law, foreigners regardless of nationality, can buy properties in most locations. Property buying restrictions apply only in border areas (East Aegean, Dodecanese Islands, regions of northern Greece, Crete, Rhodes; see below for more information) for citizens of countries outside the European Union have to apply to the Prefecture Council for a buying and selling license, which is provided after a background security check of the applicant.
Most properties in Greece have no time limit on the period of ownership («Freehold ownership»). Most parts of the country are officially recorded in the Cadaster.
Properties and building in Greece are designed and built based on the European standards and regulations regarding earthquake-resistant construction.
The purchase process is usually completed in 6-8 weeks.
Find your dream property or an investment opportunity
The correct and targeted research is very important to find your ideal property. To ensure professional service refer to a certified Real Estate Agent. The members of the Hellenic Association of Realtors®, HAR, have extensive experience and are internationally certified, with the ability to guide you throughout the buying process, from finding the property up to signing the Contract. www.sek.gr
Hire a Lawyer
The lawyer will do a legal due diligence. This involves checking the property deeds for the past 20 years (previous owners, if it is mortgaged, if there are pending legal proceedings, claims, expropriations or any other legal obstacles). This process is done at the Cadaster or the Land Deed Registry.
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Hire an Architect / Civil Engineer
The Architect / Civil Engineer will perform the Technical inspection to confirm that the property is located within the town/city plan, is constructed according to city planning requirements, its construction permit, quality of materials, etc. For land and plots (with or without building), a check of the topographical diagram which includes the property area, building coefficient (sqm.), approvals of the Archaeology and Forest Service, any specific land uses such as seashore, habitat.
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Hire a Notary
The Notary conducts and certifies all transactions, ensuring proper legal transfer of the property, compiles and reviews all official documents.
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Hire an Accountant
A Chartered Accountant will assist with the Tax ID issuing, fill tax forms and will explain the Property Tax laws.
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Open an account in a Greek bank
The main prerequisite for foreign residents that wish to do business or to buy property in Greece, is the existence of a bank account; a feat that is considered nearly impossible by many due to the current state of the Greek economy.
Whether a foreign resident wishes to obtain property in Greece or to set up a new company, they must have a Greek bank account that will allow them to transfer money to the seller of the property or a Greek bank account issued in the company name that will facilitate the company’s transactions, respectively.
It follows that the most frequently occurring question is whether it is even possible to open a new bank account in Greece because of the current state of the economy and the capital controls; the answer is yes, given that the reason for the creation of the new bank account falls under one of the reasons mentioned above i.e. purchase of Greek property or investment in the Greek market through the creation of a company.
Given that the foreign resident does not file income tax returns in Greece, the Greek bank will request documents from the investor’s country of residence such as tax returns, a telephone/ electricity bill that will be used as proof of address, as well as formal proof of occupation in the form of certification or license from the respective employer, professional chamber, board or other kind of governing body, all of which must be certified by the Consulate of Greece in the respective country. In the case that the foreign resident’s country still abides by the Apostille Convention, the documents may be certified by a notary public and then affixed with the Apostille stamp.
However, due to procedural differences that stem from the variations in the legal systems of countries, in order to acquire the correct documents based on his country of residence, it is advisable that the foreign resident consults the Greek bank in question beforehand, as well as their representing lawyer in Greece.
Additionally, if the documents are acquired in the English language, the Greek bank will accept them in most cases yet, since exceptions may occur, it is suggested that all the documents be officially translated to the Greek language before being submitted to the legal department of the bank for review.
In order to finalize the procedure, the foreign resident must be physically present at a branch of the bank in Greece, having with them their valid passport, in order to sign the necessary documents, provide sample signatures and fill out the form that will allow them to have internet access to their account.
*It should be emphasized that the power of attorney is not sufficient in order to open the account and that the physical presence of the foreign resident is mandatory; the attorney may only assist in the completion of the initial stages of the process of opening a bank account.
Pay taxes (Property Transfer Tax)
Before signing the contract, the buyer must pay the Property Transfer Tax (FMA) to the Tax Authority. The FMA is calculated based on the Tax Assessed Value of the property. For newly built properties (permit issued after 31.12.2005), the FMA is replaced with VAT (24%) on the Tax Assessed Value of the property.
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Sign the Initial Agreement-to-Buy and the Transfer Contract
This Initial Agreement-to-Buy (called ͞Engagement͟), contains details of the sale terms and the payment schedule so that the property is withdrawn from the market. The amount of the advance payment equals to 10% of the agreed sales value.
After the due diligence checks have been completed (usually 2-8 weeks) the Property Transfer Contract is signed, either by you in person or your lawyer with power-of-attorney.
Land Deed Registry, Cadaster and Property Transfer
After the registration of the contract at the Land Deed Registry, your lawyer should verify that the property has been transferred in your name and get a certificate from the Land Deed Registry. The Contract and the Land Deed Registry certificate is officially recorded in the Cadaster by the lawyer.
FMA (Property Transfer Tax) – FMA 3% and is calculated by the notary based on the property value referred to in the Contract, and will be paid at the tax office prior to signing the Property Transfer Contract. For newly constructed buildings if the construction permit was issued after 31.12.2005, the FMA is converted to 24% VAT.
- Lawyer – The lawyer’s fee amounts to 0.5 – 2%, calculated on the property value.
- Notary – Notary costs amount to an average rate of 0.65 – 1.2%.
- Land Deed Registry – The expenses of Land Deed Registry amounts to 0.475% of the Contract value.