The past year was one of the best in recent memory for Greece, with the economy growing, political stability and tourists coming in ever-greater numbers. The property market is buoyant too, but prices are low. So will 2020 be the year you buy here? Diana from Corfuhomefinders tells us about the year just gone and how the good news should make buying in 2020 even more tempting

Overall in Greece 2019 was a year of some optimism, and the property market reflected this. The general economic situation had improved after the ‘bailout’ with Greece now being one of the prime performers economically in the Eurozone. The new government, who, reaping the benefits of the actions of the previous government, are in a position to make positive changes – making a difference in the lives of the local population, which in their turn were of benefit to overseas buyers, and new residents.

Get ready to buy in 2020 with the information in our newly updated finance guide, How to Pay for It.

Tax cuts

One of these was the decision not to implement capital gains tax –  something which comes up on the radar towards the end of every year, and again for 2020 will not be implemented.  A second is the freezing of the requirement of  24% VAT levied on new builds by construction companies, which had previously deterred many constructors from embarking on multiple projects.  The government announced a restructuring of the property tax (Enfia system) during 2019, immediately effective was a small overall reduction, and the restructure is due to continue for 2020.

The sun rises over Corfu, and a positive 2020 for Greece

Politics and planning

2019 also saw local elections, with a re-structuring of administration areas, with newly elected councils making infrastructure improvements a priority in their areas, with the result that general services are already improving.

Planning laws continue to be strict in order to protect the countryside and shoreline areas, but applications are now dealt with on a wholly computerised basis which should result in speedier issuance of permits.

Planning laws continue to be strict in order to protect the countryside and shoreline areas, but applications are now dealt with on a wholly computerised basis which should result in speedier issuance of permits.

Because of the desire to retain the atmosphere of traditional villages the restrictions on alterations/extensions to property in these villages is carefully regulated, and it is important  that both buyers recognise the inflexibility of these laws and owners make sure that any alterations are done with the correct licence. When a property is in the sale process the background is minutely checked, and any anomalies have to be corrected, and paperwork amended, which can be time consuming and delay the progress of a sale.

Household costs

In terms of your cost of living, the good news is that there is now huge competition between the power supply companies. Several more appeared in 2019, all offering various discounts, which means (provided you have the patience to analyse all of them) it is possible to tailor your bills to your usage, making the best use of the various offers.

Talk is cheaper too, with more competition for IT companies meaning better deals offered regularly both on land lines and mobile phone and data.

Areas of the Halikidiki peninsula and the Peloponnese which are accessible from airports in Athens and Thessaloniki,as well as regional airports such as Kalamata and Ioannina, are proving very popular.

Property prices are rising gradually. This is especially so on the islands and in sought-after areas on the Greek mainland. Places with good transport links are really in demand.  The most popular islands, are seeing increased flight coverage every year and prices slowly increasing. Areas of the Halikidiki peninsula and the Peloponnese which are accessible from airports in Athens and Thessaloniki,as well as regional airports such as Kalamata and Ioannina, are proving very popular.

Lettings

Perhaps the biggest influence on prices is the Airbnb factor. Owners who can grasp the opportunities for short-term letting can make good use of the licence. The short-term licence is hand for those homeowners who couldn’t get the full EOT (tourism letting licence) or felt that just letting for a couple of months a year didn’t warrant the expense of an EOT licence.

This doesn’t apply only to foreigners buying, but large numbers of local people are making use of this – giving a greater availability of letting accommodation in all areas, including those such as small villages, where tourism was not a factor in the past.  Guests coming to these accommodations are expanding out of the usual tourism areas – properties hitherto not suited to lets are now successfully functioning as short-term holiday homes.

Will 2020 be the year you make the move to Greece?

Will 2020 be the year you make the move to Greece?

The end result is that owners can see the value of their properties as lets, and price accordingly for sale.  Also, vendors are not desperate to sell their properties as they know they can have a rental income, and they will hold out for what they consider a sensible sale price.

If you have questions on buying in Greece or you’re looking for introductions to trusted professionals, you can ring the free Resource Centre on +44(0)20 7898 0549 or email greece@propertyguides.com.

The explosion of holiday lets, largely unregulated, has led the government to look at ways of controlling the system.  Nothing has been passed into law as yet, but one court case has decreed that owners of apartments will not necessarily be able to register for short letting licences unless all the others in the building are in agreement. This may well be the path to future regulation.

It is likely to maintain the current situation for individual properties but require permissions for owners on developments, or to specify something like ‘independent entrance to the property’. This is currently at an early stage, but some regulations will certainly be implemented in the future, as indeed they have in many areas which have a similar situation.

Tourism

2018 and 2019 were also excellent years for Greek tourism, with 2020 looking to continue the trend.  The demise of Thomas Cook affected Greece considerably, but the flight slots and much of the accommodation has been taken up by other operators and therefore it would seem that 2020 will reflect the success of the past few years.

Naturally this has a ‘knock on’ effect for the property market, which continues to expand along with the increasing number of visitors.  The cruise market also continues to expand, with thousands of new visitors each day paying a brief visit. The benefit is in them potentially considering the country either for future holidays or long-term home purchase.

Brexit

For a long time Brexit was a factor in people deciding whether or not to buy. However, this has taken so long that many buyers took the decision to proceed anyway – especially since the government have always made it clear that its policy is that British residents rights will be protected in all circumstances. There are currently plans before Parliament to set this into law, which will cover residential rights, health care, driving licences etc.

Get legal guidance and advice from our of our trusted solicitors on moving after Brexit.

Anyone who moves and registers as resident before the end of the transition period (by 31st December 2020), will therefore have their rights protected. It’s not yet clear what will happen afterwards, but, even if you do require a visa to move, then there are plenty of options, plus the so-called ‘golden visa’ scheme, whereby you can gain residency by investment (including in property).

Greece has always welcomed the British and the aim is to continue to encourage both visitors and new residents. It has always been a safe destination which is of prime interest to buyers, and according to a newly published survey is among the top 10 safe places to travel.

Overall, we are optimistic about the prospects for Greece to build on the success of 2019 moving on into 2020,  with an improving infrastructure, tourism, business – and of course the overwhelming welcome of the Greek people, and the declared intentions of the government to ensure the rights of British residents.

Download the Greece Buying Guide today

The Greece Buying Guide takes you through each stage of the property buying process.The guide will help you to:


  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

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