What to buy
We run through the different types of property available in Greece.
When you think of Greek architecture, Doric columns and statues may come to mind – and indeed, in some upmarket resorts, however grand, neo-classical villas have been making a comeback – but most modern Greeks live in apartment blocks.
Architecture in Greece reflects the geographical diversity of the country and the many people and cultures that have visited. Islands in the west, such as Corfu, are noted for their stylish Italianate villas and waterfronts – indeed most of the harbor fronts are that style, reflecting the influence of the Venetian and Genoese sailors and merchants. These have become especially popular among expats for conversion to small hotels and B&Bs.
In the Cyclades and Dodecanese islands, closer to the old Asia Minor, properties have more of a middle eastern look; whitewashed houses with brightly coloured domes, doors and balconies. Village properties in the interior, both of the islands and the mainland, are normally built of local stone and timber, generally of sturdy construction, the Greeks being proud builders. You won’t see many fewer high-rise apartment blocks blighting the coast. The Greeks have protected their landscapes better than some countries
You won’t see many fewer high-rise apartment blocks blighting the coast. The Greeks have protected their landscapes better than some countries
Modern properties tend to be in the same generic Mediterranean style that you’ll find in Italy and Spain, with white walls, tiled floors and red roofs. You will, however, see far fewer high rise apartment blocks blighting the coast. The Greeks have protected their landscapes better than some countries.
Property investment, a new career and living the Mediterranean dream can all come together if you buy a hotel or tourist business. The good news is that many are for sale, despite tourist numbers breaking records in recent years. The website xe.gr lists commercial property sales, but a better option is to find the area you like and speak to local agents who may know of hotel owners considering a sale before it comes on the market. Another possibility is tourist facilities owned by the Greek government that they are being forced to sell to make repayments to the EU Commission.
There are more than 700,000 such assets, including land, 600 islands and tourist facilities such as hotels, marinas and golf courses.
The idea of owning a home within a Greek village, close to the shops and bar, with all the social and cultural advantages of being at the heart of the community, appeals to many foreign buyers. Some of these will have been abandoned many years ago as Greeks left the country or move into modern apartments, so there are plenty of renovation projects wherever you go in Greece. Social changes in Greece in recent years raises the potential for purchase of a more interesting property: maybe a former windmill in the Cyclades, a farmhouse in Corfu or a former monastery on the mainland.
Un-renovated properties may not have much of a bathroom or kitchen by northern European standards, but there is no shortage of under employed builders to help with a renovation project. Most builders in Greece are small scale due to the geographically scattered nature of the country, and any community will have a couple of builders to choose from. Do not try and flout building laws, however – build ratios are strictly enforced and outside of towns and village centres you can normally only build on around 20 percent of the plot.
The Greece Buying Guide takes you through each stage of the property buying process, with practical recommendations from our experts who have been through the process themselves. The guide will help you to: