We have the same right to buy in Greece as the locals – and will continue to do so after Brexit, like other third-country nationals from places like Australia. The buying system in Greece is different to the UK, so make sure you follow our outline to keep everything on track and be in place in 2020!
Firstly, it is a legal requirement to have a lawyer. It’s wise to choose an independent, English-speaking Greek lawyer, who specialises in property law. They’ll not only oversee and organise the whole purchase process, but will often advise you on tax and inheritance issues too. This is even more important if you aren’t a fluent Greek speaker, as they will be able to guide you through the details of the transaction. That way, you’ll fully understand the contract and supporting documentation. Among other issues, it’s important to establish in whose names the property will be put and who will inherit it (especially for unmarried couples with children from previous relationships).
With your lawyer chosen, your key steps to follow in the buying system in Greece will be the following:
1. Getting your AFM number
You’ll need to secure a tax registry number (AFM) from the Internal Revenue Service. It’s important to note that anyone involved in making the purchase must obtain one of these (for example, if you are purchasing jointly as a married couple). You also need a Greek bank account and this can take a while to organise.
2. Offer and reservation
When you have found the property you wish to buy and have agreed a price, the agent will usually ask you to sign a reservation agreement to take the property off the market at the agreed price. Usually, this will be for 10-15 days. You’ll normally pay at least €3,000, but it could be as high as €10,000 or more, depending on the price of the property. Sometimes, the deposit will be returnable if you change your mind at this early stage. Sometimes it won’t – it depends on the terms. By making the agreement subject to preliminary legal checks, mortgage loan availability on the property and a building survey, the deposit should be returned if there are problems.
3. Preliminary contract
This legal process will usually start with a preliminary contract – a private contract of sale between the buyer and seller agreeing the price, the payment method and any other conditions. When this contract is signed, it is binding and a deposit of around 10% of the agreed purchase price must be paid by the buyer. This kind of contract can take various forms, so it’s important to go through all details with your lawyer to be sure you understand all of your obligations and responsibilities.
Get your copy of the free Viewing Trip Guide to learn how to make the most of a visit to Greece to see homes for sale.
Greece has strict planning laws, thankfully, which have protected it from over-development. This does mean, however, that an important part of the buying system in Greece is for your lawyer to ensure your property complies. For example, they’ll make sure the swimming pool and any extensions – including covered balconies – are legal. Closing of the sale from the preliminary contract to the sales contract will usually take around four to six weeks.
Greece is an earthquake zone, so your lawyer should check that the property complies with Greece’s Seismic Code, as laid down by the Earthquake Planning and Protection Organisation (EPPO). All the same, for this and other matters, it can make sense to get a survey done. UK-based organisation RICS (the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) has members in Greece, so search under RICS Hellas for a member.
5. Sales contract
A Greek notary (simvoliographo) must also be a party to the sale contract. As a buyer, you will have the responsibility of hiring the notary, who will prepare the sales contract and make sure all details are right. The sale contract legally transfers ownership between the seller and buyer. You sign it before the notary, who ensures this process is legal. Your lawyer must also be present, as they’ll sign the document when the contract’s signed.
A Greek notary (simvoliographo) must also be a party to the sale contract.
The notary’s main function is to certify Greek documents and agreements to ensure that they meet all legal criteria. They work on behalf of the government and cannot advise or protect the interests of either the buyer or the seller.
At this signing, the notary will read out all contents of the sale contract, and will sign and complete this, providing they are satisfied that both parties understand this. The seller will need to pay the property transfer tax before the contract is signed, but, once these documents ave been completed, the balance of the purchase price will be paid. The notary then registers the property with the National Cadastre (Land Registry).
Buying in Greece
This is the final part of our six-part serialisation of Buying in Greece. You’re now well equipped with the the knowledge you need to make your dream a reality. Now, to get in touch with professionals like lawyers and estate agents, do take advantage of our carefully built up network of independent specialists – give the Resource Centre a ring on +44(0)020 7898 0549 or email email@example.com to discuss your requirements.
And, if you missed any of the previous parts, have a read of them below:
The Greece Buying Guide takes you through each stage of the property buying process.The guide will help you to: