Frequently Asked Questions
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) for citizens of countries outside the European Union who have to apply to the Prefecture Council for a buying and selling license, which is provided after a background security check of the applicant.
Prerequisite documents to purchase property in border areas for citizens of countries outside the European Union, can be found here.
The Blue Card is a simple process for EU Nationals who wish to purchase a property in a border area, involving an application filed by either you or lawyer.
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.
Are there any restrictions for foreigners buying property in Greece?
- As an EU Citizen, in case you wish to purchase a property in a border area (East Aegean, Dodecanese Islands, regions of northern Greece, Crete, Rhodes), issuing a temporary residence permit (Blue Card) is required. The application may be submitted by yourself or an authorized lawyer at the local police station. The Blue Card is a standard procedure for all EU nationals.
- As a non EU Citizen restrictions apply only in border areas (East Aegean, Dodecanese Islands, regions of northern Greece, Crete, Rhodes), according to Law 1892/1999. To make the purchase, you should contact the local Prefecture Council to issue a purchase permit. Please note that the permit will be issued following a background security check on the applicant. Prerequisite documents to purchase property in border areas for citizens of countries outside the European Union, can be found here.
- To purchase property in other regions of Greece, you do not need any special permission.
Which steps should I follow when buying a property in Greece?
Please follow the following steps when buying a property in Greece:
1. Select the property using professional advice from a Certified Real Estate Agent / Realtor®
Real Estate Agent – A 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. Search an agent here.
2. Hire a Lawyer, Notary, Civil Εngineer/Architect and Accountant.
- 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.For affiliated Law offices please contact us.
- Architect / Civil Engineer – performs 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.For affiliated Architects and Civil Engineers please contact us.
- Notary – The Notary conducts and certifies all transactions, ensuring proper legal transfer of the property, compiles and reviews all official documents.For affiliated Notary offices please contact us.
- Chartered Accountant – will assist with the Tax ID issuing, fill tax forms and will explain the Property Tax laws.For affiliated Chartered Accountants please contact us.
3. Apply for a Tax Registration Number (AFM)
The AFM is mandatory for non-residents who purchase real estate in Greece. The Tax Office issues the AFM following your submitting your passport and your birth certificate, either by yourself or by a lawyer or accountant with power of attorney.
4. 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.
5. Sign the Initial Agreement-to-Buy and pay deposit
This Initial Agreement-to-Buy (called “Engagement”), 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 sale value.
6. 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 (23%) on the Tax Assessed Value of the property.
For affiliated Chartered Accountants please contact us.
7. Sign the Contract
After the due diligence checks have been completed (usually 2-8 weeks). Alternatively empower your lawyer to sign.
8. 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.
9. Apply for a Residence Permit (Green Card)
After buying a property of 250,000 EUR or above, you can obtain a residence permit for you and your family (children up to 18 years).
What are the purchasing costs?
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.
Can I apply for a loan in Greece?
Yes, you can get a loan in Greece. The process is similar to that of other European countries. To apply for a loan you need a passport and confirmation of your income for the past 2 years. Please be advised that the full property transfer costs must be paid in advance, prior to the loan disbursement.
If the foreign resident wishes to apply for a mortgage, they are eligible to do so regardless of whether they are an EU resident or not. It should be highlighted that the total value of the mortgage loan cannot exceed 70% of the value of the property, which is determined by the evaluator of the respective bank. For additional information regarding the required documents and eligibility for a mortgage loan, kindly contact us.
What is the Property “Tax Assessed Value”?
The property “Tax Assessed Value” is the Tax Authorities’ valuation of the property based on the official Property Index and expressed in EUR per square meter. The Tax Assessed Values are issued by the Ministry of Finance and vary depending on the location of the property, age, etc.
Am I obliged to pay the Annual Property Tax?
The Real Estate Property Tax (ENFIA in Greek) is compulsory for all property owners.
Please contact us for more details.
As a property owner in Greece am I obliged to pay taxes each year?
According to Greek Law, all property owners must file the tax form E9 each year and submit it to the Tax Authorities electronically together with the income tax form E1 (both E9 & E1 are mandatory). If you have no income in Greece you will fill “0” (zero) in E1 income tax form.
Your accountant / lawyer can file and submit E9 & E1.
If I sell a property do I have to pay Capital Gains Tax?
No, Capital Gains Tax does not exist in Greece at the moment.
What are the consequences of reneging The Agreement-to-buy?
There are three different cases when reneging a signed Agreement-to-buy (assuming the deposit has been paid):
- If during the Legal/Technical property due diligence check an issue appears, the deposit will be entirely refunded, or as otherwise agreed in the Agreement.
- If the seller withdraws from sale, the deposit amount will be refunded in double, or as otherwise agreed in the Agreement.
- After signing the Agreement your paid deposit will be entirely refunded only if during the Legal/Technical property check an issue appears.
*Please be aware that by signing the Agreement-to-buy you have made a commitment to purchase a property
What kind of insurance is recommended for properties?
The proposed property insurance concerns protection against the following risks: fire, earthquake, flood, broken windows, storms, theft and third party liability.
For affiliated Insurance Offices please contact us.